Monday, June 29, 2009

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Where Could You Be? (Or, Our Trip to the Invisible Zoo.)

**My camera is still traveling with my daughter on vacation, so these photos are brought to you courtesy of my very old cell phone camera once again.**

I took Junior to the zoo. He wasn't excited about going until I told him we would see a tiger. That got his attention! He signed "tiger" and growled intermittently the whole way there.

First we saw the black swans exhibit.

Black swan, black swan, where can you be?

It consisted of a big empty area with a fountain and a pond and one lone duck.

Then we came to the chimpanzee exhibit.

I see tan ropes, empty as can be.

It was empty and under construction.

The wild dogs were nowhere to be seen, either.

Wild dogs, wild dogs, where can you be?

So we kept on walking.

A sign said the next enclosure was where the Takin (Takins? Takinusses? Takini?) lived. I was trying to remember what a Takin was and wondering how to talk about this animal to Junior. Was it like a deer? A cow? A pig? What the heck's a Takin?

It didn't matter.

I think Google Search is needed for me.

The Takin had been taken.

There were no lions or bears or elephants or giraffes, either.

But there were some cages with inhabitants that intrigued my son:

Wooly Ring-Legged Painterman

Brown Tufted Mowdegrasseus

We watched those cage-dwellers a while and Junior was content, though I was kind of wanting a refund.

The trip got a LOT more exciting and ended up being worth every penny (read Part 2 here!), but still, I felt compelled to compose the following letter To Whom It May Concern:

Dear Zoo,

Please get some animals.

Thank you,


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hey, Look! I'm on Cake Wrecks!

Well, a photo of mine is, anyway. And I've been grinning non-stop about contributing a wreck to the gallery of cakes over there! (Is it weird that I am so amused by this? No? Oh, good!)

I was out shopping a few days before Father's Day and spotted some disturbing cupcakes that made me immediately think of Cake Wrecks.

At first glance, it just looked like an innocent 6-pack of chocolatey Father's Day cupcakes, decorated in festive blues & greens....

Hey, look! Chocolate cupcakes!

...but on second glance, they looked like 6 festive little piles of crap! Literally!


The coiled, glistening freshness of each mound was so disturbing that I half expected to see steam rising from each and flies buzzing around under the plastic dome.

Father's Day Steamers for that very special someone.

I hate to admit it, but these crapcakes were from my beloved Target store. They do so many things right over there that I can overlook this one small misstep. (But Target bakers, if you are listening, you might want to consider applying the chocolate frosting with a slightly different technique next time!)

I suppose these cupcakes could be exactly what some people are looking for on Father's Day. Like if your dad is a dairy farmer. Or... a septic tank cleaner! Or if he sucks.


If you aren't familiar with the Cake Wrecks site, you really need to go check it out; it's a very funny place featuring professionally decorated cakes that are -- you guessed it -- wrecks! They might be funny, misspelled, distorted, ugly, silly, or just plain strange. You'll love it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to My Favorite Almost-Father!

Happy Father's Day, all you fathers out there who read this blog! By my calculations, for fully one third of you guys, today is your very first Father's Day on the father side of the equation!

The, ahem, one reader I'm referring to here just happens to be my younger brother.

Technically, brother, you are in that Kind-of-Dad category, because the baby hasn't actually been born yet. But the due date is so near that I know today's holiday carries new significance for you this year, and I've definitely seen you make a mental shift in the Dad direction. I know you are excited for the big birth day, but I also know there is so much more to come that you haven't even imagined yet. You have all the makings of a great dad. (And next year you will be celebrating for realsies, without questioning your membership status.)

Now while you have all the makings of a great dad, I don't think you have all the STUFF that a great dad needs. So I've been scouring the Internet to find the very best baby products for a brand new dad like you -- an urban, gadget-loving, computer geek, playful, musical, active, smart, eco-friendly, hands-on, fun kind of dad.

I've found some really good stuff that I would love to get for you....but, of course, I can't get all of it. And, to be completely honest, you really don't neeeeeed any of it. But, man, is it cool!

Feast your fatherly eyes on this:

The 2009 Ultimate Mega Cool Baby Product Shopping List for New Dads Like You (Where Price = Not An Issue)


This radio and ipod player would be wonderful in the new nursery. It's attractive, fun and functional, and a lovely shade of green. It's perfect for playing beautiful tunes (and all those not-so-beautiful toddler favorites) for your new little musician-to-be.


This is a cool jacket for you to wear when you're outdoors doing all those cool outdoor things that you do. Outdoors. Coolly. In your jacket.


Slings are great, but many of them are made with the mother in mind and they look adorably flowered and cute...but not very Dad-ish. But for the hands-on father who wants to do some baby-wearing of his own, this Man Sling is a great way to go.

And just think...if you wore The Man Sling over the ManGear Cargo Jacket, you could venture forth into the world with all the necessities and supplies -- even the baby -- and still have both hands free!* (All while looking very manly!)


This Custom Canvas is a great idea. Simply send in a photo of you and your child, and the image is transformed into a custom printed canvas on the background color of your choice. Preserve your memories and decorate the nursery, all in one shot. (Plus, it's got that high-contrast appeal that all the new babies are into these days.)

Ahhh, this one! This one might just be my favorite. The Food Face Dinner Plate set is one of the most creative and funny kid items I've ever seen. Actually, I suppose it would probably keep ME entertained longer than the baby...but how fun would it be to serve yet another boring meal on an exciting plate like this?! My only concern is that it's ceramic. While I know that appeals to purists, to old moms like me it just sounds like an accident waiting to happen. But then again...faces to decorate! Clearly Ultimate Mega Cool List -worthy.


I'm guessing that right about now, the thought of taking care of your new little one sounds like a magical thrilling privilege. And you might actually find yourself waking up with glee (or remaining awake most of the night just listening to her breathe and hoping she wakes up again really soon so you can see her some more!!) in the first few weeks, but I promise you, the day will come when you would really rather not feed, diaper, burp, hold, whatever. There will eventually be a time when any one of those things is neither convenient nor fun. So when the newness wears off and all the unicorns have left the building, this little spinner could actually come in handy to help determine who's on duty. (Or at the very least, it could simply remind you to laugh.)

And speaking of laughing, this one is for the REALLY hands-on dad. The dad who fully supports all efforts on the breast-feeding front and wishes there were more he could do to help. Stick these puppies on and voila! a dual-nursing household it is. (heh, heh)


As the nursing slowly morphs into First Foods forays, there will likely be times when you are sitting at the keyboard and holding your little whippersnapper while she happily gnaws on her gluten-free crackers and the crumbs will fall all over your computer desk. Have no fear -- your tiny USB Vacuum is here!


And speaking of you know what you will need to add to your desk at work the very second your baby arrives? A picture! These TerraCycle picture frames are made from recycled circuit boards, so they would be perfect for a computer guy's obligatory baby photo display.


Zipping around town on your Vespa is one of those great perks about being an Almost-Dad. But once you are an Actual-Literal-Baby-Toting-Dad, you might need to consider an alternative form of transportation. This Taga is one of the coolest bikes I've ever seen! (In fact, I've been gazing at it longingly and kind of wondering if it would still work for a big almost-8-year-old...but I had to admit his head would block my view and his feet would drag along the road. Rats!) But, oh, I can imagine the joys of having this contraption when your baby is a baby!


And, finally, I came across these two baby care apps. Last I knew, you didn't actually have an iPhone...but I know your devotion to Mac computers (and great technology), so I'm thinking it could just be a matter of time before you have one. And I also know how you like to be prepared and are careful and thorough in all your endeavors. Those characteristics could prove to be really helpful -- and extremely challenging -- when it comes to baby care. So when I saw these iPhone apps in my search for the latest & greatest, I thought the idea was right down your alley and added them to the list. Cool, huh?

Lots to Say Baby Pacifiers

Much less high-techy, but still with a gadgety theme, are these pacifiers. There's also one (not pictured here) that says "Mute Button" which I was rather tickled by. And one that says "No Hablo." (hee, hee) I suppose they are pretty cheesy -- perhaps even totally tacky -- but they made my Ultimate Mega Cool List nonetheless. Because the thought of giant unblinking baby eyes gazing at me with "Hi" on her lips makes me grin.


Now, listen. Here's the thing -- I already told you that I can't buy you all of these great products. But, brace yourself! Because I have purchased ONE of the items detailed above to send to you! That's right, one of these lovely gifts will be arriving at your doorstep. Will it be the Taga bike? Or maybe the pacifiers?

I'm not telling. You'll just have to wait and see!** (Isn't this exciting?)


*You'll have your hands free so you can still do magic tricks! (And just think of all the new places you'll have in which to stash some of those magical'll be the most popular dad at the playground!)

**You should anticipate something more on the pacifier end of the spectrum, though.
Just sayin'.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The (Belated) Weekend Edition: Never a Dull Moment

...unless you were watching us. Watching us would have been very dull.

Unless you were watching my son. (The older one.) He did a few interesting things.

But the rest of us barely moved more than our eyeballs!

The schedule was empty, the weather was lovely, and (this is key) Junior was elsewhere. There was no sense of urgency, no big project, no drama, barely even any noise.

So to be clear, the weekend probably looked dull if you were watching, but it didn't feel that way. Or I guess maybe it did, but only in a good way -- a mellow, comfortable, easy kind of way.

I am very, very good at doing nothing. It's one of my favorite things to do. I'm not one of those people who needs to stay busy all the time.

Which is why watching me is pretty dull.

But BEING me is not dull at all. I rarely get bored, so for me -- dull works.

And the only thing duller than my weekend is, apparently, this blog intro! So let's get on with it. There aren't going to be any meaningful lessons or deep thoughts. Just pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Of us doing what we did. Which was...nothing much.

I lounged outside in my new comfy chair and finished reading a book to my oldest son ("A Week in the Woods" by Andrew Clements) which was my sole activity for the morning. Perfect!

That book inspired many camping-themed activities for him. One of which was, uhm, camping. In the back yard. All by himself! I watched him throughout the afternoon, but it remained a solitary and earnest endeavor. (I was glad, because I had already decided I would opt for my usual, dull, sleep-inducing bed when the time came.)

One camping-related thing that might have looked exciting was when he tried to starting a fire using a magnesium block and striker bar (like the boy in the book)....but it was another sustained lovely dull activity, because the sparks would occasionally fly but the pine needles did not ignite.

(He also asked for a bottle of iodine pills to purify the neighborhood street puddles into drinking water, but I said no. I prefer his drinking water nice and dull; no technicolor motor oil or swirling larvae allowed.)

My husband came home with a new wheelbarrow, which was used in many dull and non-work-related ways. It proved to be a great place in which to have a snack, take a break...

...or read a book.
I watched my daughter read for quite a while, because her interesting book cover provided me with a very entertaining perspective.

Mostly, though, I just sat with my feet propped up and watched the trees sway and the clouds migrate, and pondered the way the leaves framed a perfect square of sky.

I also watched the chipmunks and squirrels skittering about the yard. Lovely entertainment, yet so nice and dull --no grizzly bears or shark attacks here, if you know what I'm saying.

Then I watched my son make an invention he called a "marshmallow shooter," which sounds exciting and loud, but was really more of a mental exercise than anything. (Plus, marshmallows! And tiny metal springs! We're talking peaceful, mellow ambitions here.)

I shot random photos of the sky, because it had hypnotized me. And then I increased the color saturation to re-create the blue Kansas sky of my childhood, and leisurely contemplated the difference between the two.

And if I have failed to fully convey to you the quiet loveliness of a delightfully dull day, let me attempt to illustrate it with this video:

Did you hear that?


My point exactly! Ahhhh.....


PS. And then Junior came home and the dullness came to a screeching halt. Things turned literally, instantly, unexpectedly razor sharp!

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