Monday, January 27, 2014

Business Trip, Woah

Tomorrow I'm going on my very first, all grown up, overnight business trip! I'm actually ridiculously excited. I get to stay in a hotel, and visit artsy places, and talk to other professionals about teaching and schools and all sorts of stuff! I get to "expense" things! How neat is that?

Granted, most people my age, who have been in their careers for as long as I have (in education since age 19 - probably about 10 years total in the field, since I took that little break to have hot orange hair and work at Urban Outfitters) have done this kind of thing already. But it doesn't happen nearly so often for classroom teachers.

I'm totally panicking about what to bring - should I wear dresses? I don't have any suits...I usually wear very casual clothes at work, 'cause that's the kind of school I'm at. But these other schools - who knows what they all wear? I think I'm gonna go all Ms. Frizzle, but with less crazy hair. I've got a couple of very teacher-y dresses, and even though it's gimmicky, they've gotta be a better option than jeans, right?

I'm gonna try to take a ton of pictures of cool stuff I see, and I may have to do a total education dork-out post after, because I'm pretty sure I'll be all amped up on best practices and stuff!

And then, after the business trip, it's Kelle's baby shower! It's gonna be so great. Almost all of her boyfriend's family will be there, I think, including his grandmother who just arrived from Vietnam, maybe even planning her trip to be in California for the shower. And all our Liggett aunts! They're the best group of strong sisters ever, and I can't wait for all the hugs and chats and wonderful love they'll be bringing.

I'm super happy for Kel, too, that they're all doing this - I know I loved having my family there for my wedding, and this celebration of a new life is so important too. We really just have the best family - there for each other, so much!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Magic Snow, or how to make a giant mess

I really truly cannot figure out how all these pristine mommy-bloggers do it! They craft gorgeous educational activities, photograph them every step of the way, engage their kids in them (neatly, of course!), put up stunning pictures and still seem to have time to do things like cook dinner afterwards! It's amazing.

 That is so not how crafty fun time goes at my house. I had been wanting to try this "magic snow" recipe and activity for ages (since before Christmas) but I always had a feeling it wasn't going to go as smoothly as it looked here, where I found it first (lovely photos of this activity happening indoors are about 1/3 of the way down the page).

I was so right. The kiddo had a great time, don't get me wrong. But neat and pretty this was not. My back porch is still recovering, and I'm pretty sure there's cornstarch in all the crevices of my phone.

We did two "scienspeewments:"  magic snow and oobleck. Of course, I didn't take the proper ingredients picture until after the hurricane of kid fun had ended.
Hopefully your kitchen ingredients don't look like this! 
To make snow, mix together baking soda and shaving cream until it's the consistency you want. It's actually cool stuff...smells like clean soap, feels a bit cool to the touch, and is kinda squishy but moldable. I'm sure there are actual amounts you're supposed to use, but we kept adding more shaving cream about every 5 minutes. Mostly because E would get ahold of the shaving cream and put more in there. He's way too good at reaching things. It did seem to dry out fairly quickly, though, so I think he was on the right track.
 We made a snowman. I used parts of the plants I have growing on the porch for the eyes and nose.
It looks like he's stoned and vomiting.
 Oobleck was next. I was excited about this, because I used to love teaching about this stuff when I worked at a preschool. Simple stuff - just corn starch and water, mixed well. I have no idea about amounts, but you've probably made this before, because I think most everyone has, so you should be ok. Just mix til it does that weird thing where it looks like it's a liquid but when you press on it, it's not.
About 3 seconds after I got this picture, he dumped the bowl on my pants
We had a good time with the Oobleck for a bit, but he kept finding the darn shaving cream and trying to add it to stuff.
All proper back porches should have an unusable desk chair
 Finally, we decided to mix the snow and oobleck together. It turned out just about how you'd expect. Half snowy play-dough, half gooey fake liquid stuff. Totally fun to play with.
Mixing, very messily
 And then, the kiddo realized the hose was right there. So he added water. Then sprayed me.
See, if I hadn't been trying to take pictures, I would've been able to get out of the way of this!
 After that, I realized any semblance of neatness was totally lost, and just let him go for it. And it was adorable! He splashed and giggled and got this stuff all over the place.
A seriously happy kid
 So to all you parents who can do this kind of stuff inside - I commend you. You must be incredibly good at multi-tasking! Or you have 8 arms. Or maybe you're cyborgs who can just take photos by blinking. And have children who actually stop spraying you with a hose when you shout "No no no stop please hey kiddo you're getting water in the house!" Mine just giggles. But then again, I did too.

How can you not smile at that happy mess of a child?
Today, I'm thankful for Pinterest, cause I wouldn't have found this fun project without it. Also for gummy bears, Diana Krall albums, ginger ale, and most definitely our washer and dryer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

List #8 - News Round Up (With Commentary!)

So there's been a ton of awesome stuff in the news this week. I've been talking current events non-stop at work, and wanting to on Facebook, but it doesn't seem to be a place where people want to engage about politics and issues anymore. So now I'll do it here, with the things I've been talking about the most.

1. Richard Sherman - his rant after the game on Sunday was shocking, and a bit uncouth, but I think that's what football is! They spend hours trying to kill each other - why would we expect them to just want to be friends afterwards? Maybe I don't get sports, but I think the expectation that someone should be polite to/about their rival, especially when said rival had just rejected an overture of politeness, is silly. Seriously, watch the video at that link if you have any doubts. Sherman didn't swear, he didn't threaten violence, he just yelled a bit. Totally ok by me. And while I'm at it, lay off the word "{thug" when talking about him. It's been talked to death by now, but I'm sick of people saying "But I don't mean it in a racist way." It doesn't matter what way you mean it. The meaning has changed, and you need to learn, and then stop using it (unless you want to be racist - then go for it, I guess.) This article in particular was a good summary.

2. Justin Bieber - I will never ever ever ever ever ever let my kid be a teen star. Just, no. There was an interesting piece a while back by Mara Wilson, the adorable kid in Mrs. Doubtfire, about why teen stars go off the rails. You should check it out. Bieber's parents probably should have, too, before he turned 18. Hope the kid gets some help. And some decent pants.

3. The Olympics in Sochi - Obama's sending a gay delegation, Jon Stewart's doing an amazing job of mocking the homophobia in Russia, and of Putin in particular, Germany is wearing all rainbow, and I just know there are going to be mini-protests all over the place. The Olympic Committee really needs to figure out that it's not a political statement to be out and proud. If we had network TV, I'd be glued to it for the next month.
4. The Raiderettes - I had no idea how little professional cheerleaders were paid. Seriously - $1250 per season? That's crazy! I can't imagine working that hard, let alone smiling that hard, for what amounts to about $5/hour. I hope they win gigantic piles of money, because cheerleading is a highly physical and demanding sport, and if the football players get millions and become stars, the cheerleaders should get that chance too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pink is NOT Just for Girls, and it's NOT the Problem!

A particular Huffington Post article has been making the rounds on my Facebook this week. It's mostly a great article, and it's been bringing a ton of attention to one of my biggest pet peeves, which is awesome. The hook is an adorable Lego ad from 1981:
The article goes on to mourn that we don't have ads like this anymore. And I so agree! I wish we treated girls, and by extension girl toys, as wholly developed things that don't have to be frilly or sparkly or pink in order to be something that girls want. And I wish marketers weren't doing this to the toys of my childhood, as they "modernize" them:

Dolls don't need to be sexier. They don't need to be made skinnier, or given bigger eyes and longer hair and more porcelain skin. Dolls and female characters can be girls without bows and boobs and makeup. I don't know why toy companies are so very insistent that young children believe that all girls want to look like this, or should look like this. I don't know why they want all children to want the same thing! It's infuriating.

Toys should be toys. For kids. Whichever kids want them. We shouldn't be allowing all the toys in our country to be divided up into boy toys and girl toys. It does our children a huge disservice, and it's going to cause problems for us all in about 15 years, when the kids who grew up in this atmosphere are young adults with no concept of gender-neutral.
But the HuffPo article made me pretty angry right off the bat with this line:
The LEGOs are not pink or "made for girls." She isn't even wearing pink.
Aaaarrrggghhh!! Pink isn't the problem! Why does it matter if she's wearing pink, or not wearing pink? Pink is not our enemy. Girls should be able to wear pink if they want to! Why do people, whenever they respond to this kind of problem (and I see it all the time) think that eliminating the pink toys is the solution?

Why is there never any outrage that pink wasn't included in the original Lego set? I dare you to find a gender-neutral toy that includes pink. Or is all pink. It's nearly impossible. I can't dress my son in pink. But I can damn sure find blue clothes and toys meant for girls. Why? Why are we so afraid of pink? Is it because it's associated with feminine, and we are scared of feminine becoming the norm?
We use feminine words as insults all the time:
"You throw like a girl"
"Don't get your panties in a twist"
"Quit being such a pussy"
And we imply that a loss of manhood is the worst thing that could happen to a man:
"Turn in your man card"
"Did someone put your balls in their purse?" 
Jessica Valenti, in Full Frontal Feminism wrote:
“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” 
And it's true! Even the majority of our vulgar and insulting words equate to a woman's genitalia! I won't list them, but I'm sure you can think of plenty.

In Chicago several years ago, there was a contest to pick a new color to represent the newest train line. A young girl wrote an essay advocating for the color pink. “Who does not like pink?" she asked. "It’s so bright and lively … if it’s pink people will want to ride it.” The CTA agreed with her, and The Pink Line was born. And with it came outrage on the part of many Chicagoans. From Salon:
A pink train would be humiliating to the good people of Chicago. We are the hardworking, meat-eating, bar-brawling, sports-loving, dirty-politicking, multiple heart attack-surviving hog butcher for the world! We are men, except for the slightly more than half of us who are not! And you expect us to pay good money to ride on something called the “Pink Line”? Why not just put a tutu on the Sears Tower, or fill Soldier Field with tampons, or come to my house and cut my balls off?
 And there, I think, is the real problem. It's not so much that we now offer almost exclusively pink (and purple!) toys to girls. It's that we don't offer them to boys. And by doing so, by leaving pink out of all gender-neutral items, out of all "boy" toys, we are teaching both boys and girls that pink is an other.

That only someone who is less-than will want pink. Pink has been made to represent the underlying hatred our society has for all things feminine, and that sucks. Because I like pink. And I like girly things. And that makes me no less capable than anyone else.

I just wish society would agree with me on that.

***Whoops! Turns out the original title of this blog post was used already by the excellent Bob "MovieBob" Chipman. Here's a link to his great discussion of the same concept: Pink is Not the Problem.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why so few kids movies?

It might be silly, but I love taking my kid to the movies. I love going to the movies, so that might be part of it, ha! When he was just born, we went to see The Muppet Movie together, and it was great. He slept, and nursed, and since he loved songs from very early on, it was an easy way to get out of the house.

He hadn't been to any other movies since then, until just before his 2nd birthday, when we took him to see Disney's Planes. We'd heard it was perfect for little ones, and it'd been so long since I saw a movie, I would have been willing to sit through almost anything! And it was adorable! Not so much the movie itself, which was pretty mediocre, but watching the kiddo watch the movie. He was enthralled. He danced to the songs, pointed out the planes, and loved the popcorn.

Since then, I've taken him to two more flicks - Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Frozen. They were both great. Fun, funny at times (Meatballs more so), and a nice way for the kiddo and I to have a special adventure together.

But now that I have a kiddo of movie-going age, I've noticed the serious lack of kids movies in theaters. And I'm not just talking about good kids movies. Seriously, right now, Frozen is the only thing in the theaters. It's been the only thing in theaters for at least a month! I'm not saying I want to take him to movies all the time, but especially over winter break time, I would've thought there would have been at least two options! I hope this is just a weird lull, because I'd be sad for my kid if he hardly ever got to experience good films in the theaters - it's just too fun!

That said, I can't wait for the Lego movie to come out. Ross has loved Legos his whole life, and I just know the kiddo is going to too. And also, the movie looks awesome. Seriously, check it out!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soccer, for Two Year Olds (Aka OMG the cutest thing ever)

Down the street from our house, there is an amazing gym. It's housed in an old airplane hangar (we have a lot of those, because there used to be an Air Force Base on the island), and tehy offer piles and piles of great family-oriented classes and activities.

The Bladium is an institution on Alameda...a rite of passage, one of those clubs that most everyone belongs to. I would have joined long ago if they offered yoga, but they're a little more sports-oriented than wellness-oriented, so while I've seriously contemplated trying their rock climbing classes, I've never actually gone there for fitness. I've definitely visited the on-site bar, though!

But! Our kiddo is old enough for their soccer classes now! Actually, he was about 6 months ago, but we didn't realize that they start soccer as early as 18 months (how adorable does that sound!?) So a few days ago, when we found out they still had room in their winter session classes, we signed him up for their Lil Kickers program. His first class was today, and it was possibly one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

They provide the kids with uniforms on their first day of class, which is a sweet touch. E's was much too big, so we traded it in, but not before I got this adorable shot of him wearing a jersey that goes down to his knees.

It's not such an excellent shot of the coach, but it's all I've got!
The coaches were great, leading the kids through some kicking, some running, and lots of practice following directions. E loved loved loved it...he followed the coaches around like they were his instant best friends, and even though he had a bit of a tough time standing still and not kicking the ball right at people, he did pretty well, I think!

Can't wait to take him back next week and see what they've got planned. So far, I can't recommend the classes enough!

Today, I love naps, friends who are willing to laugh about exactly what persimmons taste like, how family friendly Alameda is, Special K cereal (I've had like 3 bowls) and Jon Stewart, because he just gets it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back Online!

Our modem died earlier this week, so we've been entirely without internet for several days. But now it's back! And I have absolutely nothing interesting to write about. Maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


I did it! I got back on the yoga horse today. (Haha, a yoga horse. I would love to see that. Do you think it'd still be called "downward facing dog" if it was a horse doing the yoga? Is there a horse pose? Would the horse just call it a me-pose? So many questions!)

I've been feeling really crappy for the past week, and I always know that yoga makes me feel better, but of course, when you feel crappy, the idea of physical activity just isn't appealing, and that whole "get-up-and-go" part of self-care has always been the hardest part for me. Once I'm in a routine, I'm great at it. Not just great at the routine, but specifically, great at yoga!

I actually get really flexible, really fast! My last good round of yoga-ing, I had my heels on the floor in down dog and I could do all these poses:

Ankle-to-knee pose image via
Eagle pose image via (this one is harder than it looks!)
Pigeon pose image via
King dancer pose via
Today, I could cross my legs and I could hold a plank for about 30 seconds, but my flexibility was totally shot. I fell out of one pose pretty hilariously - I was up and graceful (ha, yeah right!) and then suddenly my feet were higher than my head and I was laughing hysterically.

If you're not a yoga type but want to try it (New Years Resolution time, right?), I highly recommend the first season of "Yoga With A View" to start. Colleen Saidman does a great job helping you learn poses and stretches, and when you're ready, the second season, with Hilaria Baldwin, is a nice step up. The workouts are only 20 minutes long, too, which is perfect for me.

This particular one is my favorite, and it's the one I did today:

Anyways, at the moment, I feel better than I have in a while, and I"m sure lots of that has to do with yoga, although the adorable attempt the kiddo made at playing "hide-and-seek" today sure didn't hurt.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

List #7 - Things I Said and Really Meant in 2013

Have you ever noticed how having a kid makes you say really odd things? I think it's just about the funniest thing, so last year, I kept track of things we said to the kiddo that were just too ridiculous to believe. And as my final goodbye to 2013, I'm sharing the top 10, without explanation, in order of hilarity.

10. "Where the hell did that Maypole come from?"
9. "Cars don't drive on guitars"
8. "We don't drink milk through curtains"
7. "That necklace looks so pretty on your dinosaur"
6. "We don't put hammers in gravy"
5. "Oh, it's ok, that banana doesn't need it's hair combed"
4. "Aw, now my butt is wet too"
3. "No no no, don't throw that horse!"
2. "Did you put a crouton in that bird?"
1. "E, where are your berries? And your banana?"

I have a feeling it's gonna get even funnier in 2014. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


What a wonderful break the past week has been. We've been staying with my parents in Orange County, which means lots of good food and swimming and rest, which was all much needed.

Christmas was just lovely, and beyond adorable. Santa came to visit on Christmas Eve, which was both exciting and terrifying.

I think the internal monologue here was something like: "Oooooooh, Santa Santa Santa Santa ohshitohshitoshit. Maybe if I don't move he won't see me."

We eventually bribed the kiddo with a cookie, and got a couple of cute shots of my dad with both grandkids on his lap, and adorable pics of the rest of us with him too. I just love that my dad dresses up as Santa for the littles - they are still talking about it. Next year, it's gonna be full-force Christmas belief from them, and I can't wait. We'll leave cookies and they can sing songs and it'll be just ridiculous.

This one's from last year - I didn't get any pictures with Santa this year. Next year for sure!

Last night Ross and I put the kiddo to bed nice and early, and had a lovely evening playing Pinochle with my parents. As I've mentioned before, my family is huge into games. When it's a big group of us, we'll usually pull out Balderdash or Apples to Apples, but in small groups, we are all about cards. And for the first time ever, Ross and I actually beat my parents!

At midnight we toasted with delicious champagne, the kind with delicate little bubbles, and then I went straight to bed.

2014 has lots of good things in store - can't wait to see what it brings!