Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jaws 2 or Benjamin Meets a REAL Shark!

As you saw in the previous post, my home is now patrolled by the tiny dorsal fin that is Benjamin's mohawk. However, we recently got the chance to see the real thing... a real, live SHARK! Dum-dum-DUM!!

No we didn't get lost at sea, and no, we weren't watching the Discovery Channel. We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach with neighbors Holly, Isabel, Julie, and Nolan. Much to our delight, the Aquarium was fairly empty, save for some schoolkids on field trips. As the kids ran shrieking through the main atrium, I thought to myself, "Someone should tell those kids to stop running and quit making that ruckus!" My next though was, "God, I'm getting old." Thankfully, there were only a few school tours that day, and we were able to enter the first exhibit without further ado.

Within moments, Benjamin was trying his darndest to scale the glass, but unfortunately, he wasn't gaining much ground. As they say, the spirit is willing, but the legs are short.

I gave my little boy a boost so that he could press his nose up against the glass. To his delight, several sharks swam right by him. I swear they were trying to size up Benjamin's dorsal fin.

We took a break from the dark aquarium to go outside to the touch tanks where Benjamin tried to grab a starfish. As I held back his chubby hands, I noticed that there were other kids standing there who were showing no such restraint. Again, the old fogey thoughts came. "Are they here with teachers? Where are their parents? Oh, my goodness, is that girl wearing a thong?! Ugh... kids these days!" I didn't have much time to indulge my old fogey-ness because the tots were anxious to get to the next activity: the water park.

Isabel and Nolan happily soaked themselves in one of the water jets, while Benjamin took the helm of the ship. I hid my old fogey self in the shade of a tree, fastidiously reapplying sunscreen and wondering when I had turned into such an old fart.

As we were walking through the final exhibit, I spotted something that put me back in touch with my inner juvenile:

You could say that these placards are a litmus test of maturity. People who are able to read them and move on without comment are mature adults. The ones who stop and giggle like Beavis and Butthead aren't. Guess which category I fall into?

Huh-huh... Huh-huh...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jaws 2009

My serene home has been transformed into a shark-infested sea!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Look Who's Walking: Part 3

As I detailed in a previous post, there is a big difference between a baby taking a step or two and a baby actually being able to walk. Well, it turns out there is yet another distinction to be made when it comes to this major milestone: the transition from merely being capable of walking to just plain walking. It's a shift that happens when your toddler becomes confident enough to stop crawling and start walking around on two legs like a real human being. Vince's words, not mine.

On his road to being upright, I got lots of advice on how to help Benjamin "practice" walking. "Give him a chair to push around!" "Use toys to 'bait' him!" "Take away his walker toys!" "Don't do anything at all; he'll walk when he's ready to!" I tried a bit of everything, but it seemed like the kid just did not want to walk. And who could blame him? Once you start walking, you're just a nanosecond away from getting kicked out of the house and being forced to find a job. If you're still crawling, however, all you have to do is pretend like you're about to crawl through a nice big pile of dog feces and Mommy will pick you up and hold you. That's right, Benjamin, I'm onto you. But I digress.

It wasn't any of aforementioned pieces of advice that got Benjamin to start walking. It wasn't my endless cajoling, praying, or squatting three feet in front of him while holding his favorite toy in my outstretched hands. It was a pair of five dollar flip-flops from Target. To be honest with you, the main reason I bought them was because they were so freakin' cute. I mean, come ON - teensy, weensy little cutesy, wutesy widdle flip flops? For a baby?? When I saw them, my head nearly exploded from the cuteness. So, in order to save my own life, I bought them. At least that's what I planned on telling Vince if he gave me any crap about the purchase. As soon as I got home, I slipped them onto Benjamin's feet, and to my utter shock, he got up and started prancing around. Yes, prancing! He pranced in circles, all the while looking down admiringly at his feet. I'm not sure why it took a pair of flip flops to get him to do it. Perhaps he needed to see his fat little sausage toes in the act of gripping onto shoes. Whatever the case, that was the day he made that final transition and began really walking.

Though it's wonderful that Benjamin is walking, it hasn't been without it's pitfalls. For one thing, he still doesn't have much balance. That means that a quick change in direction, a stiff breeze, or a sudden shot of water to the face will topple him over.

Another pitfall is that Benjamin now has two free hands. Why is that a pitfall? Well, let's just say that it involves my spending approximately 2.75 hours a day searching frantically for whatever object I really, really, really needs at that moment. Common things that go missing are the remote control, my keys, and my sanity.

It's a good thing that I keep my corkscrew well out of his reach.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Isn't it Bro-mantic 2

In the months since their bromance began, it's become more and more apparent that Vince and neighbor Shawn have much in common. They both enjoy living in Playa Vista. They're both really good at math. They're both devoted fathers. They're both married to ravishingly beautiful, sexy, and intelligent women. And they both enjoy playing Xbox Live. Lots and lots and LOTS of Xbox Live. At night after the Boo has gone to bed, I relax to the tranquil soundtrack of Vince and Shawn's gameplaying. "Help me! I'm dying!" "I lost my meat shield!" "AAAAAAHHHH, DIE, #$%*@#!!!!!!" Yes, it's great. Juuuuuust great. Well, it looks like soon I may be listening to a soundtrack of a different kind.

The other night we were hanging out with our neighbors Justine and David. We'd just finished Justine's delicious home-cooked dinner when David busted out the karaoke machine. Now, if you know Vince, you know that he dislikes singing. He detests listening to it, he hates doing it himself, and I believe that he'd rather swallow his own tongue than be forced to endure karaoke. But as you can see from this clip, Shawn doesn't quite feel the same way.

Did you see that look of disgust on Vince's face? That dismissive headshake? I have to admit that at that moment, I feared for the safety of their friendship. I just wasn't sure if their Xbox bond was strong enough to transcend Vince's karaokephobia.

But then this happened:

I could hardly believe it. Vince? Singing? Vince?!? I tried not to get too excited. After all, it appeared that Shawn was doing most of the singing and Vince was mainly just humouring him. But then this happened:

Ok, now there's no denying that Vince was not only singing, but enjoying himself in the process! I guess that's the mark of a true friendship: the ability of one friend to encourage the other to leave his comfort zone and try things that he otherwise would never have tried before.

Now if only Shawn could get Vince to start eating onions...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mom's Day 2009

During Mother's Day last year, I was kind of a mess. Benjamin was just a few months old and sleeping only 90-minute stretches at night. When he wasn't sleeping, he was nursing - sometimes upwards of ten times a day. I was grappling with postpartum depression and trying to come to grips with my new life. Thankfully, the medication was really starting to kick-- I mean, I was really starting to enjoy motherhood. This year, much as changed. Benjamin is now sleeping four to six-hour stretches at night, and since I'm only nursing once a day now, any depression that I feel can be chased away with a glass or three of wine. Life is good. Motherhood officially rocks.

A sweet card, lovely earrings, and a rose from my boys awaited me on Mother's Day. Auntie Poppins (AKA Deb) brought me those gorgeous calla lilies the night before.

Benjamin and Vince got the day started by surprising me with flowers, a sweet card, and a lovely pair of earrings bearing their birthstone. The card brought me to tears. I was touched by how heartfelt it was, and also by how similar Benjamin's handwriting is to Vince's.

The Mother's Day surprises continued with a home-cooked pancake breakfast. Did you know that pancake batter is available in an aerosol can? Yup! What will they think of next? Odd packaging notwithstanding, the pancakes were delicious.
The biggest surprise came in the afternoon when an excited, almost giggly Vince drove us to Fisherman's Wharf. We were going on champagne brunch cruise around the marina! And if that wasn't enough of a surprise, Shawn, Julie, and Nolan were coming, too! It doesn't get much better than that - good company, good food, and free-flowing booze.

If my Mother's Day was nice, then Julie's was twice as nice, because she had not one, but two little boys clamouring for her attention - her own son AND mine. A few weeks ago, Benjamin began showing an intense affection for his Auntie Julie. Sometimes he'd reach for her even while I was holding him! He'd be in my arms, he'd spot Julie, and then he'd arch his back and grab for her until she took him, sometimes actively pushing off of me in the process. You can imagine how that made me feel - absolutely delighted to have found a new babysitter! Thanks, Julie!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Many Faces of Boo

Benjamin has always been an expressive baby. From the time he was a wee infant, a quick glance at his face would give us a good indication of how he was feeling. Certain faces indicated he was in a good mood...
Certain faces indicated he was in a bad one...

Or a really bad one...
Certain faces indicated he had something important to tell us...
Other faces he put on when he was trying to be brave...
Lately, I've been seeing more of one particular face, and I'm trying to figure out what it means...
It's a cross between a sniff, a huff, and a Bruce Lee-style nose-thumbing, and it makes me laugh every time. I mean, what in the Sam Hill is Benjamin trying to tell me with this face? Is this a defiant face? A proud face? A stubborn face? A mean face?
The first time I saw him make this face was several month ago when he realized that he was able to sit on the teeter-totter all by himself with no support from mommy. Back then, I thought that this was a face of pride.

Now he makes that face when he's doing a variety of things - sitting by himself in a chair, banging on toys, ripping up paper, or simply just strutting around. I've come to the conclusion that this face is Benjamin's tough-guy face, a face that proclaims, "Look out world, Benjamin the Badass is coming!" It's a face that he puts on when he's being his most rough-n-tumble, boy-like self, and I think I know who he learned it from.

Friday, May 1, 2009

O Brother XL 6562, Where Art Thou?

It's been less than a month since I opened the virtual doors to my new shop, and what a month it's been. I've been swamped with sewing, filling orders, obsessing over my Etsy shop, designing Beasties, more sewing, creating patterns, buying fabric and notions, searching for the perfect buttons, and yet more sewing. I have to admit that my housewifely duties have been suffering somewhat - Vince obligingly ate leftovers three times this week, I'm only doing one load of laundry a day instead of four, and I'm groggily trying to push through each day on about five hours of sleep. Come to think of it, it's kind of like being a new parent again. No, scratch that - if that were the case, then I'd be getting only 45 minutes of sleep a night. In any case, my Beasties seem to be gaining momentum, and sales are brisk. Ish. And to think it all started with my friend Lisa's sewing machine. Ah, the Brother XL-6562. We had some great times together. I say "had" because our relationship lasted only two weeks before I got bored and moved on to a sleeker model with more to offer.

Meet the Husqvarna Viking Platinum 730. I'm sad to say that she doesn't belong to me; she's on loan from my friend Julie. It's a good thing that Julie's not in a rush to get her back, because a new Husqvarna comes with a hefty price tag. I'd have to sell about twenty custom-made Beasties to get one of my own. The humble Brother would set me back only about three Beasties.
If you've never used a sewing machine, then you probably don't think that there is much that can set one apart from the next. Certainly not seventeen Beasties' worth of a difference, anyway. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but let me just mention a few bells and whistles the Husqvarna has to offer - A needle that automatically stops in the up position! Computerized stitch functions! Automatic lower needle threading! The ability to wind you bobbin without unthreading the upper needle! It's enough to make a girl swoon! Ok, I should stop now before I pass out from sheer giddiness.
I spent only a few days with the Husqvarna before deciding to return the Brother to Lisa. He just looked so darned sad sitting there all neglected and forlorn, picking up whatever scraps he could get.
Kinda makes you think of someone else in the Chan household, huh?