Friday, November 20, 2009

My New Toy

Last weekend, my husband surprised me with an unexpected gift: a new camera! I had reluctantly agreed to go to Best Buy with him to do what I thought was going to be video game shopping. Imagine my shock when he turned to me and said, "I want to get you a new camera for your birthday." Holy camoly! I launched myself into his arms and showered him with kisses. Well, that's what I wanted to do, but being heavy with child, I would have snapped his spine in two. So instead, I gave him a big hug and did an unwieldy little happy dance. After some haggling (yes, you can haggle at Best Buy!), I settled on the lovely Canon Eos Rebel XS.

As soon as I got home, I charged up the battery and started taking pictures. Being the impatient person that I am, I didn't take the time to properly read the instruction manual, and the first few shots that emerged from my fancy new camera were totally....
...awful. Yikes!! I was pretty appalled by how terrible the pictures were, especially given the fact that I had studied photography in college. Isn't it supposed to be like riding a bike? I guess not. Then again, the last time I held an SLR camera was over ten years ago, and they didn't have no newfangled digital thingymabobs back then. So that evening, I took the time to sit down and read through the manual. Or at least skim the first couple of pages.
The next day, armed with my newfound knowledge, I tried taking pictures again.

Much better! Even though I primarily shot with the automatic settings, the picture quality was incredible. I mean, food particles that I had neglected to wipe from the Boo's chin which I hadn't noticed with my naked eyes were visible in the pictures!
I also tried out the "continuous shooting" function and caught this moment-by-moment series that shows Benjamin escaping from his Daddy's grasp.
Later on, I test drove my new toy at my best friend Deb's birthday party. Yes, it's helps that my subjects are beautiful, but look at how gorgeous this picture is!
I couldn't resist snapping the Boo while he was taking a potty break. I swear, even the lowly act of urinating is elevated to the level of art when seen through the lens of my fancy new camera!
Vince has probably been wondering what kind of monster he's created by giving me this new toy. If our lives weren't overdocumented enough already, now I'm shooting pictures of my son urinating in public. Well, my love, I will promise you that I will never shoot YOU urinating in public. At least not with my fancy new camera!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Table Manners

Someone should teach this kid some manners! Oh, wait... That "someone" should be me, huh?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nolan Turns TWO!

A few weeks ago, Benjamin's BFF Nolan turned two. His parents marked the occasion by throwing him a party in the toddler playground at the end of the block. To add a festive touch, Julie decked out the park with helium-filled balloons, colorful beach balls, and cute party favors. And let's not forget the cake! Julie and Shawn's friend Liz, an up-and-coming pastry chef, created the adorable concotion you see above. It's a single cake made up of several dozen separate cupcakes. They were so delicious that I had to have two - plus another one filched from Julie's stash of leftovers the next day! Of course, I've already booked Liz to make a cake for Benjamin's birthday even though it's more than three months away. If you're interested in having Liz design and bake a cupcake cake for you, too, feel free to email her! If you'd prefer something a little more amphibious, take a look at this other cake that was also baked for Nolan's party:

This froggy cake was baked by Liz's boyfriend Tom. Sure, it may no be as... er.... polished as Liz's cake, but you've got to give the guy props for trying. Evidence of his hard work can be seen in the bristles of the pastry brush that were left behind in the fondant.

Nolan's neighborhood buddies turned out in force to shower him with happy birthday wishes. Among them was, of course, the Boo.

It was heartwarming to watch the two little friends celebrate together. They spent a fair bit of time just horsing around like regular toddlers, and then Nolan's emotions got the best of him. He suddenly felt compelled to envelope his best friend in a big bear hug...

...and another...

...and another and another and another!
To get a true understanding of the ferocity of Nolan's hug, you have to watch it in action:

And if the Boo seems reluctant to return the favor, he needs to realize that Nolan isn't always so generous with his hugs!

Happy Birthday, Nolan!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

H1N1 Tailgating

Swine flu fever has swept the country, and we've caught it. The metaphorical fever, that is, not the literal one. Unfortunately, vaccinations in Los Angeles County have been in pitifully short supply, which has only served to ratchet the fever up to... well... fever pitch. It's like the H1N1 vaccine is to 2009 what Tickle-Me-Elmo was to 1997.

For once, the Boo's blood condition was a blessing, allowing him to be one of the first kids in his pediatrician's office to receive the H1N1 vaccine. My being in a family way, however, has been of absolutely no help in my own quest to be vaccinated. None of my doctors even have it yet, so on a recent Saturday, me and two mommy friends, Sheila and Julie, lined up super early at Jesse Owens Park in the hopes of getting vaccinated through one of the county-run free clinics. The clinic was scheduled to open at 9:00 am, but we arrived just before 6:00 am. Like I said, it was SUPER-early. And, lest you think we were being paranoid, let me inform you that there was already a line of people ahead of us about a block long!

Our hubbies arrived with the kids about an hour later, and what should have been a morning of anticipatory drudgery took on a strangely festive feel. With the snacks, lawn chairs, and friends gathered together, it almost felt like we were engaging in some really boring, mid-thirties form of tailgating.

The kids had plenty around to keep them entertained. To the delight of Benjamin and Nolan, one of the police officers assigned to the event flashed the lights on his squad car.

And when they grew tired of that, the boys were content to just sit together on the stoop, where they hung out and admired Kayla's cute outfit.

By 9:00 am, the line had grown from being about a block long to being about a mile long. As we prepared to enter the gymnasium where they'd be giving us the good stuff, we surveyed the hundreds of people that had arrived after us. Sheila, Julie, and I couldn't help but feel mollified in our decision to be such overzealous early birds.

As chaotic as the scene outside the gymnasium was, inside it was very orderly and calm. We'd each been given a color-coded bracelet which let the dispensing staff know which tupe of vaccine to give us, and it took only minutes for each of us to be inoculated. Though Benjamin wouldn't be getting an injection, his eyes grew as big as saucers when he saw the table full of shiny needles.
As soon as we'd all received our vaccines, we decided to treat ourselves to dim sum at our favorite spot in Gardena, the Sea Empress. We dined on swine spareribs, swine-filled water dumplings, swine and shrimp shui mai, and BBQ swine-stuffed steamed buns. All that waiting had left us famished, and we inhaled the food like we hadn't eaten in weeks. You might even say that we ate like pigs.
Stay healthy, everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rabbit Kinney

About a month ago, my sister-in-law's husband's brother's wife emailed me to ask if Benjamin might be interested in doing a modeling gig for her friend's t-shirt company, Rabbit Kinney. Never one to shy away from the opportunity for free swag, I said, "Hell, yeah!" I contacted her friend and founder/designer, Jean Kim, and we met for the Boo's photo shoot. He will eventually appear on the Rabbit Kinney website, but in the meantime, she sent me the triptych you see at the top of the post.

You can see more of Jean's adorable t-shirts for babies, kids, and grown-ups at her website,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!! 2

Who needs T.V. when you've got a best friend?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Mini-Me in the Making

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that it seemed my growth had slowed? Yeah... Those days are over. I'm now at 22 weeks, and the bump is in full effect. As you can see from the last picture above, my belly now protrudes enough to act as a handy ledge on which the Boo can rest his arms. Glad to be of service, Boo!
I got a taste of what life will be like with two little ones last week when Julie and I took Benjamin and Nolan to check out a sale at Old Navy. As we were installing Nolan's carseat into my car, the boys jumped into the front seat and played around with the buttons and dials. By the time we were ready to go, my windshield wipers were going, my hazards were blinking, the radio was on, and there were two wannabe racecar drivers who had to be pried out of the front seat.
Once we were at Old Navy, the boys behaved themselves remarkably well. For a little while. We marveled at how well they kept one another entertained so that we were able to browse the racks with minimal fuss. They made a game of chasing each other around the changing rooms and got a kick out of looking at themselves in the mirrors. But - as the saying goes - all's well that ends well. After about twenty minutes...

It was time for a meltdown! Benjamin and Nolan decided that they'd had enough of this shopping nonsense and promptly turned on one another - and their mommies. First, they both wanted to sit in the shopping cart seat. Then they fought over who got to stand in the shopping basket. Then they wanted to scream at the top of their lungs. Then they didn't want to have anything to do with each other. Then they wanted to run around and play together some more. Julie and I ended up taking turns standing in the checkout line so that the other one could chase after the boys. As I ran around the store keeping tabs on the little devils, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Oh, my God, is this what having two kids is going to be like?"
On the bright side, many people have told me that girls are "easier" than boys. I'm not sure if they mean that girls are better behaved or that boys are just more rambunctious, but either way, I'm hoping that they're right. And who knows why? Maybe pigtails stimulates pressure points on the scalp in a way that calms the nerves. Or maybe it's a fear of having your knickers exposed by throwing a tantrum while wearing a frilly pink dress.
Speaking of girly clothing, I made my first official purchase for my own unborn baby girl. I found these adorable ballet slippers while at Old Navy, and couldn't resist buying two pairs - one in silver and one in copper. If they look familiar, perhaps it's because you've seen a similar version of them elsewhere...

Don't laugh! I think that putting a pair of mini-me shoes on my daughter is perfectly acceptable, especially when compared to what Vince does with Benjamin!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Part 3

After two weeks of pre-parties and pumpkin patches, the day had finally arrived: Halloween was here! We started off our evening by visiting Vince's mom, sisters Leslie and Adele (pictured above right), and nephews Obi Wan Kenobi (AKA Ryan) and Superman (AKA Tyler).
Thank you, Holly, for supplying the photo of the Chan Clan!

After a brief visit, we returned to go trick-or-treating with neighbors. Some of the characters we encountered were a ladybug (Berry), a witch and a teddy bear (Aneta and Michalis), two Little Red Riding Hoods and a very scary Granny Wolf (Holly, Rusty, and Isabel), and a mummy (Nolan - duh!).
. The concept of trick-or-treating seemed to elude the Boo at first. He hung back with Daddy and warily watched the other kids take candy from strangers. After the first half hour, though, he grew tired of watching from the stands and jumped right into the action. Thankfully, we'd tricked him into thinking that part of the fun was bringing each treat back to Mommy for safekeeping - and out of the mouth of a young toddler who'd otherwise be up all night on a sugar high. In the process, however, he'd forget where he'd been, and - after depositing the candy into my hands - would often turn right back around and return to the person from whom he'd just trick-or-treated. The result was lots of loot:

There was actually much more candy than what you see pictured above, but somebody ate it all...

Thank you, Grace, for this fantastic pic of Monica, Julie, me, and my bump!
Hope everyone had a rockin' Halloween!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Part 2

This Halloween was one of the busiest I can remember. In addition to the neighborhood Halloween parties we'd already attended, we had several other spooky-themed events on the books, including an outing to a local pumpkin patch with our Emerson class. While Benjamin and BFF Nolan clambered all over the pumpkins, I couldn't help but think back to the previous year when we had visited this same patch...

What a difference a year makes, eh? I marveled at how much my little boy had grown. Back then, he was a chubby baby who could barely sit up.

Now, he's an intrepid little boy who is brave enough to venture into a faux cemetery.

Ok, maybe he's not that brave.

The Halloween festivities continued at class the following week, when the kids got dressed up in their costumes to go "trick-or-treating" through the other classrooms. We visited English language classes, a seniors knitting class, and a figure drawing class where, thankfully, the figure model wore a costume of his own - a pair of flesh-colored briefs. Though I was tempted to, I did not take a picture of him.

As he strolled through the halls wearing his punk outfit, blue mohawk, and devil-may-care expression, Benjamin looked like a miniature juvenile delinquent.

After trick-or-treating, the kids wrapped up the morning at a Halloween carnival set up by the teacher. One of the carnival games involved bobbing for powdered donuts. It took Benjamin a while to figure out how it worked, but as soon as he did, he was hooked.

He could not get enough of the sugary goodness! After bobbing successfully for his first donut, he went back for seconds. When I wouldn't let him have another one, he scoured the ground for crumbs the other kids may have dropped, but the slim pickings led him to make a face that - minus the powdered sugar residue - would have rivaled Henry Rollins' most vicious yell. Again, a far cry (no pun intended) from Emerson class one year ago:

Stay tuned for more on Halloween 2009!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Part 1

Halloween. A time when ordinary, everyday people transform themselves into anything they can imagine: superheroes, comic book characters, legendary figures, fantasy figures, or mystical creatures. Is there no more magical time of year?
This year, Vince, Benjamin, and I decided to trade in our boring identities as accountant, toddler, and housewife and become a family of blue-mohawked punk rockers. We debuted our new family look at the neighborhood Halloween party with our neighbors Cleopatra, a mummy, and a Caesar's Palace emplo-- I mean, Marc Antony.
Since three-foot-tall punk rocker costumes are hard to come by, I took matters into my own hands and created one for the Boo myself.
I started off with a black t-shirt and jeans from Target. I cut the sleeves off of the shirt, sewed on zipper trim, and used iron-on transfer paper to add the red letter "B" I'd created in Photoshop. I narrowed the legs of the jeans and sewed black pleather trim with metal rivets down the side seams.

Unfortunately, I'd narrowed the pants a little too much. When Benjamin wore his costume for the first time at a Halloween party for the neighborhood kids, he fell over nearly every time he tried to run, walk, move, or breathe. Once prone on the ground, he had trouble getting back up because the pants bound his legs together, so he wound up wiggling prone like a little punk rock fish-out-of-water. Also, the tightness in the legs kept pulling the waistband down, exposing his knickers. Not a punk rock look at all.

A few quick mods fixed these issues. I cut out the inseam of the pants and replaced it with a strip of stretchy black jersey. To keep his diaper under wraps, I added metal snaps to securely fasten his shirt to his waistband. Problems solved!

Add a few finishing touches - a metal-studded pleather belt cut down to Boo-size, a variety of industrial-strength hair products, and a cuff made from leftover pleather trim and studs pried from the belt - and Benjamin was transformed from chubby, everyday Boo into...

More Halloween hijinks to come, so stay tuned!