Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The End of Scott's Incarceration?

The unthinkable has happened. It may be time for Scott to graduate from a crib to a "big boy bed."

I've been lucky so far. Claire never tried to climb out of her crib. We switched her to a "big girl bed" when she was about two because Scott came along and needed the crib. Scott has been the kind of kid that you put in his crib and he stays there noiselessly until you decide you want to go get him. No funny business.

Until tonight.

Tonight Scott climbed into his crib by himself. That's right, I said INTO. Granted, the crib rail was down, but still. He was all ready for bed so he climbed up and vaulted on in, then laid himself down on his pillow. His only requests were that I turn out the lights and sing to him. Then he told me, "Good night!" and blew me a kiss as I shut the door.

I'm not sure what to think. Mainly I'm worried that this portends further crib-hopping antics, possibly of the escaping variety. I mean, I will really miss the baby jail that gives me so much peace of mind. On the other hand, even if he continues not to try and get out of the crib, maybe it's still time. Maybe he's not a baby anymore. Maybe he's ready for the developmental milestone of a real bed. Maybe I'll have an excuse to redecorate his room!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thanks for Clarifying, Scott

Scott does not keep his emotions a secret.

When he feels affectionate, he gives spontaneous hugs and kisses. He prefers to initiate hugs at a full run. After crashing into you, he pats your back when he hugs you. This is coupled with lots of big, slobbery kisses. Thankfully he has finally learned to keep his mouth at least 80% closed now, most of the time. Also, he doesn't impact teeth first anymore. I think I heard that before he reformed a little, "Scott kisses" were slated to be the next event added to the X Games.

When he's displeased, he SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS. Screeching, blood-curdling screams. Like a girl.

When he's really mad, he throws himself to the ground for a tantrum. Face-first. It doesn't matter where he is: in the middle of the lawn, crowded pedestrian thoroughfares, asphalt, sand volleyball courts. You name it, he'll throw his face on it. Yesterday at church, he threw himself down without warning in the middle of a crowded church hallway. He nearly got stepped on three times by passing adults, who, for some reason, didn't think to check the floor in their peripheral vision for prostrate toddlers. Oh yah, and just like his kisses, his tantrums are open-mouthed too. I guess they aren't "face-first" so much as "mouth-first." So the other day at the park when decided to throw a tantrum in the sand volleyball court, he came up for air with a mouth full of sand. [Cringe]

But when Scott is happy, he makes up for all of it. He runs around flapping his arms and repeatedly exclaiming, "HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!" (Of course, it sounds a little more like, "Ah-py, ah-py, ah-py!") As if he needed to tell us - his face says it all. Nonetheless, he announces it to the world. Over and over and over. Try watching him sometime and see if you're not grinning like a fool after about 10 seconds.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Japan II - The Return

More Japan trip, comin' at cha!


We took a bus tour of Tokyo.

First stop: Tokyo Tower
It was nearly impossible to get a good photo of the whole thing given the crowded surroundings. This might have been aggravated by the fact that I was on a bus.

There were windows through the floor of Tokyo Tower's main observation deck.

A view of the Tokyo skyline from Tokyo Tower's main observation deck.

Tokyo is so densely populated that really the view looked about the same in every direction, adding a little bay here and there. So to visualize the 360° view, just do the following:

1. View this image on a laptop or other portable device.
2. Look at this photo, then close your eyes and rotate your body 90°.
3. Open your eyes and look at this photo again.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have rotated the full 360°.

There. I just saved you the exorbitant $8 tower admission fee.

We got to walk around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace. This was the place to go for moat aficionados. Big, thick, imposing stone walls? Check.

Let me take a moment to mention our fabulous luck. The sakura gods smiled on us and we got to be in Tokyo for its cherry blossom season. This only lasts a few weeks at most, and the timing varies from year to year depending on weather conditions, so really we were lucky. Day 2 of our trip was considered the "peak" viewing day. The Japanese really take their sakura seriously; the peak blooming was front page news in Japan's English newspaper. We got to stumble and trip over all kinds of people sitting on blankets having their cherry blossom viewing parties in the parks and gardens. From the blossoms' first opening to peak is usually about week and then from peak until the blossoms fall off is about a week, give or take. So as our week in Japan drew to a close, we saw more and more falling blossoms. Even the falling blossoms made every step feel like a fanciful romp through a fairy tale. Or something. Maybe something less embarassingly cheesy. My point is, it was unequivocally gorgeous. Observe:

New and improved Imperial Palace photo - now with cherry blossoms!

Imperial Palace photo v3.0 - even MORE cherry blossoms

I can neither confirm nor deny reports that a certain group of four very tall female American tourists got separated from their tour group in this area by walking past the poorly described and demarcated crosswalk where they were supposed to cross the street and get back on their bus. Reports suggest that a very short-legged and very sweet (but nonetheless very negligent) tour guide may have had to literally run to catch up with this renegade group that was speed walking away because they thought they had gotten VERY far behind everyone else. [insert sheepish grin here]

Last stop: Asakusa, mostly to see Senso-ji

These blossoms had fallen off in earlier wind and rain and landed in a puddle.

After a long train ride home (hello rush hour!), we ate some fabulous yakitori for dinner. I gotta mention the food because it's the most efficient form of tourism there is if you ask me.

Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You Can Stop Bugging Me Now

So I know you've all been waiting with bated breath to hear more about my trip to Japan. I am finally awake enough to write about it. Also, I have finally narrowed down the candidates for photos to post. (Don't start giving me any grief about the large number of pictures I'm going to post about this trip because seriously, I could have just made you look through all 488 photos I took. And that number doesn't include 2 videos and the even larger number of photos the other people there with me took. Sheesh! Consider yourself lucky!)

Without further ado, I give you my trip in installments by day, sort of.


Okay, so depending on how you count it, what with the time difference and all, this part could cover day 1, or maybe day 1 and 2. Whatever. I shall use sleep time greater than 4 hours as my daily delineation for the purposes of this discussion. Day 1 it is. I left my house early Friday morning and caught a flight to DFW. From there I met up with my sister J who flew in from SLC, and my dad's two sisters, my aunt S and my aunt A, who flew in from LAX. (Doesn't everyone think in airport codes?) We all flew from DFW to Tokyo Narita airport. The flight was 13 some odd hours. Due to some error in my physical makeup, I couldn't sleep on the plane. But I sure saw a lot of movies. One or two of them were even pretty good. We arrived at about 1:30 in the afternoon Japan time on Saturday. We met up with my dad (who was traveling to Japan on business like he does almost monthly) in customs. Then we caught a bus to our first hotel. The bus ride took FOREVER because of rush hour traffic, so when it was all said and done I think I'd been "on the road" for almost 24 hours.

The hotel we stayed in for the rest of our trip was full the first night, so we got to stay in one two train stations away from our "real" hotel. This hotel was hilarious. As we walked around looking for dinner, we decided that, best as we could deduce, it was in the middle of a neighborhood full of "gentleman's clubs." But we did find some Korean BBQ that was delicious.

J and I shared a room and it was downstairs from the lobby. The ceiling was super low. As in the door to our room was short enough that the top of my head brushed the door frame. Also, the bathroom was small even by Japanese standards. It made the airplane lavatory seem luxurious. My aunt S had a room with a special 2 foot wide by about 8 foot long strip of room extending off the main part of the room her room so that there wouldn't be a wall splitting the outside window in half. Weird.


We took the train to our "real" hotel and then a business colleague of my dad's picked us up in the company van for a trip to Hakone.

For obvious reasons, I am not in a lot of the photos I took. But here is a shot taken by my aunt S that sums things up nicely. Japan saw a lot of this - G with camera to face:
It was drizzling, so we looked like dorks with our hoods on.

There is a lake there at Hakone that was created by an ancient volcanic eruption. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji in the distance, but the day we went was very cloudy. Along the shore of the lake there is a torii:

Here is my sister looking at the lake. (Again with the dorky hoods.)

At the shinto shrines you can buy a fortune. If it's bad you leave it there so it won't come true. Here are the bad fortunes tied to ropes.

Cool roof line of the shrine.

My sister J assuming the "tourist look" of camera to face (again with the dorky hoods, sorry). I swear never to make fun of the stereotypical Japanese tourist taking pictures of everything again. That was so us. My aunts were taking pictures of vending machines and food in the grocery store.
"Goodbye dignity, we'll miss you."

Hakone also has a lot of hot springs:

They cook eggs in the hot springs. They come out all black. As if boiled eggs don't smell sulfury enough by themselves! Here is a picture of everyone taking a picture of the black eggs. (A meta-photo if you will).

My dad and I peeling eggs. They were actually pretty tasty.

Okay. That's all for now. Stay tuned for Day 3 soon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sanity -- Not Dispensed Here Anymore

I know you all just can't get enough of M's posts, especially his insightful book and movie reviews. Unfortunately for you, M has decided on a change of venue for the majority of his work. Check out his latest movie review (with more pontifications in the works) at:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Claire the Pretty Pretty Physician

Claire is not that into the "princess thing." Claire's outfit of choice is a green shirt, shorts, tennis shoes, and a ponytail (assuming I won't let her just wear her hair down and hanging in her face). She will only wear a dress to church on Sunday and skirts take even more convincing. Heaven forbid she sees me eyeing a perfectly adorable skirt for her on the clearance rack at Target!

Claire: I don't want that, Mom.
G: But this Sunday is Easter and all the little girls at church will be wearing new dresses and skirts...
Claire: No.
G: But skirts are cooler in the summer than shorts...
Claire: NO.
G: *sigh*

She will put on dress-up princess dresses, but only when she is over at a normal princess-obsessed friend's house to play. When Claire has a little girl friend over to play here, I usually see the friend emerge from the playroom within the first 15 minutes wearing the pink princess dress we gave Claire for Christmas while Claire is off doing something else completely. I am just relieved to see our gift get a little use.

Back in October, I thought maybe she was turning into a typical little girl when she dressed up as Belle for Halloween. But alas, it was not meant to be. I have not yet convinced her to wear the costume again. Maybe she just knew that I needed me some princess-clad-little-girl so I could die a happy and satisfied mom. And so I could endure the rest of the year with her and her quirks. I guess I'll take what I can get.

The costume she always wants to re-wear is her doctor costume from the Halloween before last. There was a long line of pretty pretty princesses, and then Claire in green scrubs and a white lab coat (and don't forget tennis shoes!). Back then, I loved it. I admired Claire for being an individual and having a good head on her shoulders. I laughed when I thought about how much more likely Claire's "dreams" were to come true. I enjoyed the irony that Claire had picked a much more realizable way to have tons of money with which to own pretty things. She had picked brains instead of shallow beauty and I loved her for it. In short, I saw a little me in many many ways.

But as is often the case, myself and I don't always get along. Sometimes I really bug me. (Imagine how much I must bug everyone else!?!?!?) I see the things I wish were different about me and of course I try to fix that in my kids. You see, my mom called putting on lipstick doing her makeup. She wore her hair super short and accidentally got called "Sir" because of it when the grocery clerk saw her out of the corner of their eye. So I didn't get a lot of girliness from that source. Not that it would have mattered. My dad told me I couldn't pierce my ears or wear makeup until I was sixteen (though the rules did get bent/changed in the end). I was homeschooled until I was 10 years old for goodness sake! I was SO AWKWARD!!! I feel like I learned everything I know about being "girly" so late in life. I don't want that for Claire. I mean, as much as I truly do love practicality and empowering my daughter and all that jazz, we both know that no mother dreams of making fake hospital ID badges for their little girl (though it was fun). Where are the hair bows? Granted not the giant ones. Or the ones on a bald baby's head. Or anything cheesy...

So maybe I brought this on myself. I mean, I did eschew pink in her nursery. I'm SO not into cutesy. But that doesn't mean I don't want a little taste of girliness. I should have seen this coming when she picked Belle as her token princess interest. She's my favorite Disney princess too. The one with her nose in a book. The one with an errant piece of hair. The one who ends up with the ugly guy because he's the right guy, the nice guy. (M: I probably don't need to add this because you are not an oversensitive woman, but I do not think you're ugly. Or fat.)

I know she may grow out of it someday, but for now, she probably qualifies as a bit of a tomboy. And I'm only making it worse because I'm always trying to push her to be more girly. I don't even think it's conscious. Apparently I am just a control freak. And that is just one more way that Claire is SO like me. Can you say "butting heads"? UGH.

Here is a great example of my pushy stupidity. What did I get Scott as a souvenir from Japan? A small wooden toy samurai sword. Totally kick-a...wesome. What did I get Claire? A red yukata (summer kimono). Totally pretty. And I was stupid enough to give Scott his present first too. Was Claire excited about her present? Of course not. She just wanted to play with Scott's present. And which present cost three times as much as was three times as hard to find? Claire's present, of course. Of course. Why do I not see these things coming? I guess I just want to doll her up so bad I blind myself. I did convince her to try it on once for about 30 seconds. That required so much coaxing that I have probably guaranteed she will never want to wear it again. Because Claire can smell control lust. If she senses that I REALLY want her to do something, she does the exact opposite.

Case in point. I leave you with the following discussion from a few days ago. Claire was invited to a princess-themed birthday party. She was coming off a recent preschool incident where I tried to convince her to wear a princess dress so that the little boys in her class would be left with some dress up clothes that were more gender appropriate. She told us she didn't want to wear a princess dress to the birthday party. M tried to tell her that it's polite to do what the birthday girl wants to do for her party. No use.

G: Well, you don't have to wear a princess dress, but maybe you should take one along. You know, just in case you change your mind once you're there.
(I mean, I'd hate for her to be robbed of the chance to glam up just because she didn't come prepared. Surely once she was there with all the other "royal" partygoers... I don't know if I've ever thought so optimistically about my child being subject to peer-pressure.)
Claire: Okay.
G: Which dress would you like to take? Your Belle dress, your pink dress, or your Japanese dress?
Claire: My Belle dress. That ones' funny.
G: Why is that one funny?
Claire: I like to run in that one because I trip.
(Hmmm. Her Belle dress is absurdly bulky and long.)
G: Oh, well maybe you should take a different one so you won't trip all the time.
Claire: Don't worry, Mom. I won't trip.
G: How do you know?
Claire: Because I won't change my mind.

And there you have it. Claire's infallible logic. Her choice of dress won't matter if she won't wear it.

(And in case you're wondering: She did take the Belle dress. And I picked her up still wearing her street clothes. She laughingly told me that she was having so much fun, she forgot to change her mind. I think she was just trying to make me feel better. I know her. She had absolutely NO intention of changing her mind.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a Plug for Someone Funnier Than Me

Remember the post where I hinted at my distaste for Thomas Kinkade?
Well, in case I didn't offend enough back then, I thought I'd really twist the knife for all you Thomas Kinkade victims fans out there. You all need to read this post by Diesel. It TOTALLY made my (very narcoleptic) day!

(I'm sorry in advance. It has a few "choice words" I wouldn't have used but I think it's worth it.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Some Things Make You Question Your Priorities

Do I have so many awesome photos from my trip to Japan that I filled my camera's memory card?


Am I posting any of those today?


What am I posting today?


Go figure.

What Day is it Anyway?

Check out that time stamp. That's right, 4:29AM.
No, I didn't alter it. And no, I didn't wake up really early.
Jet. Lag. SUCKS.

So yes, I'm back in the good ol' US of A. I got back Saturday afternoon but the jet lag has hit me tonight the worst I've ever had it. I suppose tonight was the first night I wasn't so delusionally exhausted I could have slept no matter what time of day my body thought it was. M gets insomnia all the time and I've never had it before. Looking on the bright side, I have so much more empathy for him now. And I finished my book. So yah, sleep is overrated, right?

Can someone please tell me why, WHY, I have four extra four year olds above and beyond my own little handful coming over to my house at 9am tomorrow this morning?!?!? I hope I don't actually fall asleep while teaching Claire's preschool.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"But what else is at the bottom of the mine?"

As a dad I really do try to answers my kids questions.

You know, where you sit down and explain that air pushes up on the bottom of the airplane, and electricity flows through your toaster to make it get hot, and we aren't having any more candy just because dad thinks more candy will make you cranky.

Unfortunately I frequently get sucked into believing that somehow if I'm smart enough and patient enough we'll get to the bottom of the question well. That is false in case you are wondering.

It turns out that kids aren't very good at identifying what I call "fundamental truths". A "hypothetical" example:

"Daddy what does the word mind mean?"

"It's what you think with, your brain."

"no, mind!"

"yes, mind, what you think with"

"no, I heard it on Thomas, he fell into a mind"

"Oh, a mine, that's a hole they dig looking for metal."

"Oh... why did Thomas fall in it?"

"Well, if he tried to be on top of the mine he would fall in. You always fall down holes if you try to be on top of them."

"And that's why you need to stay away from them?"

"Yes, because you could fall into them and get hurt. You should stay away from them."

"How could you get hurt?"

"You could break some bones"

"Oh... Why would you break your bones?"

"Because mines are deep and you would fall faster and faster until you hit the bottom"

"Oh... and then you could break your bones?"


"What is at the bottom of the mine?"

"Dirt and rocks."

"Oh... what else is at the bottom of the mine?"

"Nothing, just dirt and rocks."

"Oh... why is nothing else at the bottom of the mine?"

Thats where I lose it. Why aren't other things at the bottom of the mine? The question could have a million stupid answers right?

"Because every time the robber puts the gold there the gypsies use their divining rods to find it and get it back. "


"Because Scotty figured out how to boost the tachyon emitters to locate captain Kirks communicator signal and beam him out of there."


"Because there is a special force field that only lets miners and little kids and claymation trains past the opening"

But at that point I've already lost. My fatherly wisdom has run out and the only way out is the way I probably should have taken at the beginning of this conversaion.

"I doesn't matter... go to sleep"