Sunday, January 30, 2011

Video of a Fractal in Three Dimensions

Surface detail from subBlue on Vimeo.

We Take the Monkey To the Zoo, Part 8000

Sometimes, you just have to accept your fate. In this case: no naps. Ever.

Ok, fine. Fine. We can cope. Yesterday, for instance, we took Iain to the zoo right after lunch. And it was a surprisingly good day there. The rhinos stayed inside (too cold!), but the elephants came out to play, and the bird/reptile house was warm and toasty. So birds aplenty ruffled their feathers for Iain.

Mr. Turtle looks kinda stuck in that rock. We watched him try to get out (verrrry slowwwllly), without success.

Best of all were the giraffes. They have 2 yards to play in, but when it's cold the zoo closes the (super tall) giraffe doors (see behind her) and the biggies stay inside. You can hang out on the first floor, looking at their knees, or you can climb the stairs and check them out from a more reasonable vantage point.

See that thing behind her head? It's a Christmas tree. They're all over the zoo. Elephants played with them, they provided insulation in the tiger enclosure (built up around the sheltered areas), and they swung overhead for giraffes to nibble.

"Actually, Dad. Actually." Iain was very talkative. Also: note the hat. He didn't want to wear it, but Charles said "It's like when you go outside to play at school, Iain. You have to wear a warm hat." Magic.

We left one thing behind yesterday. What's that? Here's a hint: it has 3 wheels but only 2 letters are used in its name. [psst: BOB] [psst! That's the stroller! Iain walked the whole way!] [psst!: Mom and Dad are pretty excited!!]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Russian Dance Off

More information: here or here

This style of dancing would be a great way to train for fencing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Play, in One Act

"Moooooommmmmy! Where are you?"
"I'm right here [in my room next door to you]. Are you in bed?"
"Mommmmmy! I want to be in your bed."
"Nope! You need to be in your bed."
"Nope! I need to be in your bed!"
[Mommy laughs]
[Iain imitates Mommy's laugh, perfectly.]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What I Did Last Weekend

Friday, Iain chose not to nap. No nap. Nooooooooo nap. Charles was in LA, so it was just The Mom and Iain.

Of course (of course!) he was tired on the drive home. I wanted to go to the store and get a bowl of soup "to feel me better." So I drove there, and he threw an epic fit at the door, refusing to shop. Fine. I took a page from mothers of yore and told him that tantrums aren't ok - we were headed home.

I drove home. As we pulled into the garage, he shifted his fit and began to demand to *go* to the store. You up to speed? Need to confirm? Fit = no store! Fit2 = go to store!

I thought: you are nuts. And so inside we went. The fit continued for almost 45 minutes, after which Iain fell into a deep sleep. It was about 5:20.

He slept until 10pm. Yes, 10pm. And I was sick. And he'd had no dinner. And he was wearing jeans and the same diaper he'd donned at school. AND HE WAS IN MY BED. In other words, I was not comfortable just letting him sleep all night.

What to do? First, a boring bowl of noodles for The Mom. Second, something to pass the time. Can't watch TV because HE'S IN MY BED! And I don't want to go downstairs in case he wakes. That leaves computer, book, or...that puzzle I bought over break!

One of my students gave me a little gift card to Barnes and Noble. I could have used it for a book. Ridiculous. So predictable. Instead, I snatched up a 1000-piece puzzle. Of a cathedral. What was I thinking?

Anyway, this is how I spent the weekend. I edited out the pile of yucky tissues. You don't need that in your life.

Iain was impressed with my puzzle skills. Maybe someday he'll enjoy doing puzzles with me, and then we can have a shared hobby for those weekends when The Dad has to travel.

Oh, and Friday? He woke at 10, ate, and stayed up until 1:30am. I got to bed at 2:30 or so. That's why I was so tired Saturday morning. But it's Tuesday! We got 3 inches of snow, my throat is clear, and things are looking fine.

How Did We Win the Revolution?

Heh. Funny.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Want to Be an Engineer...

Listen for: "my patent would be he-ee-eere, If I was an engineer..."

Thanks to Jen Yu for the link.

[EDIT: The MIT drinking song for future engineers. I recall a group of trashed fraternity brothers kicking high, arms wrapped around one another, giggling madly while belting this puppy out at top volume. You might want to grab a shot of something before you start reading. Be advised - it is dirty and not sensitive to the feelings of anyone.

My favorite stanza:
An MIT surveyor once found the gates of Hell
He looked the devil in the eye, and said "You're looking well"
The devil looked right back at him, and said "Why visit me -
You've been through Hell already; you went to MIT!"]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Send Help. Or, at least, Chocolate

No nap. Mommy is sick. The weather is: Sunny! Sleet. Sunny! Snow. Hail. Sunny! The pile of grading I brought home is sitting in a corner, sulking and promising to bug me all next week.

I think I need a sinus transplant. In the meantime, if I'm reported missing, look under the pile of tissues in the living room.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trying on Daddy's Helmet

Safety first, people.

In the last photo, he's wearing the helmet backward. I guess you just can't get in the way of toddler creativity.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Way, Jose!

Today I picked Iain up just before 5. He was sliding - headfirst - down the red slide on the playground. I said, "Wow! Are you going to do that again?" His reply: "No Way, Jose!!"

But here's the really important news: the little pork-filled (pork saboro) tofu packets I made (inarizushi) are great! Today's lunch consisted of salad, a single onigiri (filled with a small piece of avocado and a little bit of the saboro), two inarizushi, an apple, a mandarin orange, and a small baggie of chocolate truffles. Yum!

The only downside is that I'm the only one eating this stuff. And since making a tiny pot of rice is a challenge, my batches of onigiri and inarizushi are kind of...large. I have to eat the same lunch all week, in other words, to avoid waste. Gotta figure that out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Bookshelves. Feel free to thank me.

I Miss Naptime

No nap. As per usual, these days. We took Iain to the main library for fun, but that only lasted until about 2:30. I tried everything to get him to sleep. I nibbled his toes. I tickled his armpits. I made funny noises.

What? That's not restful?

Anyway. No nap.

Friday, January 14, 2011


The latest bedtime demand works like this: Iain wants you to climb in bed, lay next to him, and tell him about something.

Usually, the topic is his birth. As in, "You were supposed to come on April 10. But did you come?" "No!" "That's right. You were late. So..." and onward through his birth, first bottle, stay in the hospital, and eventual trip home.

But he loves trains. You knew that.

And I got bored with the birth story.* So I've been telling him about our trip to England in 2007. We took the Chunnel train, we rode on the Metro, and we traveled by TGV. That's a lotta trains for a little man.

The change of subject has had an unexpected benefit, though. Unlike the birth story, which gets him all giggly ("And I was CWYING! HAHAHAHA!"), he finds my tales of Europe intensely boring. He falls asleep. Every time.

Maybe it's my memory for detail. The story goes like this: We left Oxford by bus. We rode the bus into London, got off at Victoria Station, walked past Scotland Yard, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Boadicea, and across the bridge to Waterloo Station. There, we bought tickets, walked into the waiting area, onto the platform, got on the train, stored our luggage, rode through the city, the southern countryside, and into the chunnel. Then through the French countryside, the suburbs of Paris, and to the Gare du Nord. The Metro (he likes to try to say "Metro") across Paris to Montparnasse, where we bought burned croissants (I think the girl gave me the wrong change. On purpose.), marveled at the nasty birds on the tables, purchased chocolate for Brian and Dominique, went up to the platforms, boarded the TGV, and proceeded through Le Mans to Angers.

By the time I get to "We visited Richard the Lionhearted at Fontrevault..." he's snoring. Snoring.

And you?

*In case you're wondering, I leave out the whole failed-anesthesiology-emergency-C-section-after-24-hours-of-labor bit. Because that's too many things to explain.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Fun With Lunch

I was totally inspired by this lunch. So I'm going to use the recipe she gives for spicy ground pork atop tofu packets with rice (inarizushi), and also make this recipe for Japanese scrambled eggs.

Shopping list for our (fabulous) Asian market on 9th:
Oyster sauce
Inari (fried tofu packets, apparently you can get them frozen, so that's a bonus)
Ground pork
Onigiri seasoning (who knew? I was making stuff up with my pantry! Anyway, I might also get some things to stuff inside them, like pickled Japanese plums. Because: yum!)

[EDIT: I made the scrambled eggs, and while they're tasty the color is off. They should be nice and yellow but instead are a little brown. I think this is because the ratio of mirin to soy is 1:2 when it should be the reverse (ie, more mirin less soy). The good news is that 2 eggs made just enough for my four little inari packets. So tomorrow I'll try again.

Also, I had a field day at the grocery. Red bean paste steamed buns, pot stickers, tempura mix, panko, nori, and many other yummy things. I love that place.]

Time, It Do Fly

"Mommmmyyy! I ppooooooooped!"

Iain refuses to nap at school. Every day his report card comes back with "No Nap" circled. Ouch.

Yesterday he fell asleep in the car, napped until almost 8pm, then threw a wild party until 11:30 (!!!!!). This is, as they say in customer service, not acceptable.

At some point last night, he was standing at the baby gate, calling out "Mooooommmmmy! I pooped!" I said, "Did you really poop?" Because he fibs.

He popped back: "Of Course!"

Had he pooped? What do you think?


So today I spent the ride home singing loudly, asking annoying questions and demanding that he "sit up!" And it worked. We're fed, bathed, jammied, and watching Super Why at 7:02. My successes may be small, but I'm proud.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


This morning I informed Iain that we needed to go shopping.

"We need to go to the TOY STORE!" he told me.
"Oh? What will you get at the toy store?"
" of each!"

Oh, rlly?

I must have looked skeptical, because then he offered a less ambitious plan. "I'd like seven!" Seven toys? Yes.

Iain is sad to report that we did not go to the toy store. Nor did he get a toy or a balloon at the grocery. The day was a total bust, from a toddler point of view.

But for was great!
  • There were 2 fresh inches of snow on the ground (overnight snow! so magical!), the sun shone brightly,
  • I ran 3 loads of laundry
  • we stocked up on groceries
  • Then I got fresh local eggs at Caputo's
  • then I went out to seek socks (for Iain) and jeans (for me) without success (in either)
  • then I spent the rest of my gift card on a pair of adorable cap-toed flats
  • then I went to yet another grocery store for meat and unsalted roasted peanuts (for stir-frying) and coffee yogurt
  • then I talked at length to my dad
  • made pizza for supper
  • prepped lettuce for my lunch
  • made onigiri (2 flavors: pickle filled and Za'atar. Yes, za'atar. The food of the Middle East is full of delicious rice dishes, so I figured it was worth a try. I'll need to drop in at the Asian market for nori for next time)
  • And baked brownies (orange dark chocolate with dark chocolate chips) for a student's birthday tomorrow
Now Iain and I are watching The Book of Kells for the umpteenth time. In a minute, though, I need to grade a few essays. And tomorrow? Back to the classroom for lectures on homesteading, readings from Theodore Roosevelt and Owen Wister, and maybe another afternoon of skiing.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Image from here.

Iain received a box of bento-making tools in the mail Thursday.

Technically, I suppose the box was for me since I make the lunches. But really, sandwiches shaped like the Titanic, and flower-shaped bits of cheese or carrot are all about the Little Man.

Part of the gift was a pair of onigiri kits. Onigiri are Japanese rice balls. They are often partially wrapped in nori (the dry seaweed that comes on sushi) and contain a little surprise in the middle. You might pop a little meatball in there, or a bit of pickled plum. So it's a delicious little snack, and perfect for a lunchbox. The kits are like molds that press the onigiri into heart or triangle shapes.

Iain is very interested in the molds, so I'm planning a trip to our Asian market to pick up some Japanese rice. I found this guide and now I'm ready to go.

Friday, January 07, 2011

It Sleeps

No nap.

I think Iain might be growing out of his naps. We knew this was coming, but that's not the same as being "prepared."

No nap means not just that he is tired, but that the drive home will be an exercise in keeping him awake, that dinnertime is likely to be a battle, and that he'll be increasingly unstable as it gets nearer to bedtime.

Or, like tonight, he may throw a nuclear fit just inside the door, howl for 25 minutes, then fall asleep on my lap. He's curled up on Charles's pillow, snoozing away, as I write. Later he'll wake, eat, and demand entertainment.

It would be nice if there was some kind of compensation. Like, for example, if he gave up naps and diapers at the same time. But no. No. He's only just started to try out the potty at school (not exactly voluntarily), and we've had no luck yet at home. So it's diapers plus cranky toddler all weekend.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Presto Change-o

We got bored. Our furniture had been in the same place for...eight whole months! Blech.
Mr. Beau R. Ing.

So we reversed the dining table - moving it from the west side of the room to the east. Then we squished the sofa and slipper chairs into the middle, so they surround the fireplace.

We're mimicking the arrangement we saw when our friends Sara and Brian lived in a tiny little jewel box of a house in Echo Park. Cram in your seating! They're your friends and they want to sit closer to you.

Last, we made a little welcome-y seating area by the front door. So now when you enter the house there is a little fake foyer, and we can invite people to come in and sit down without walking past our dining room table. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm not sure why I think this is better, but I do. Maybe it's just the relief of the furniture boredom that feels nice.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Barber of Seville - King's Singers

Very amusing, and wonderful too. Our choir is practicing to try this.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Wow - Thatsa Lotta...

Iain received three "big" gifts for the holidays. From his grandparents, he received a double dose of swimming lessons. He loves those, and they help pass the time on days when he doesn't nap (which is getting to be really common). Miss Jessica comes to pick him up from class after lunch, he swims for a while, then comes back to class for the afternoon.

He also received four huge boxes. They weighed about 40 lbs each, we estimate. Inside an incredible collection of blocks. Above, Iain opening the baggie of decorations and little pawns. They serve as "people" when you build a castle.

Below, the blocks laid out - except for that box behind him, and one more box containing very large blocks. Yeah, that's only half.

Eventually, we had to start playing. Our first castle, just before Iain started whacking:

And the triumphant whacker, showing his war face:

We moved the blocks into a tub in Iain's room. The biggest pieces fit under his changing table (please, God: potty training). But check out the volume!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Everybody Needs a Hobby

By the third or fourth day of break, I was bored. Charles was bored. Iain was bored. We were all looking for stuff to do.

And I was also annoyed with my spice cabinet. I got a lot of wonderful gifts this year, including boxes with spices from all over the world (a box from Turkey! ZOMG!). But every time I reached into the cabinet: disaster. It was a mess.

Then, on Christmas, I received a beautiful box with Vanilla, Orange, Lemon, and Almond extracts. There was just no place for them. But I looked at the box from Penzey's, and I noticed how nice and muscular the cardboard looked. Very manly, really. I wonder...if I cut that box up, could I make a little faux-spice rack? Hmm...

So as you can see, I used the top and bottom of the box essentially as frames, and stacked the spice containers on them. While Penzey's sells the best spices ever, their containers don't fit into one another. You can't easily stack them in your cabinet. But now, thanks to the box, I can use much more of the height, and have an easier time seeing my stuff and reaching for what I want.

Of course, that was the bottom shelf. The rest of the cabinet remains a disaster:

Yes, I have a lot of salt. I bought so much in part because Iain's school asked us to make Play-Do. My play-do was really bad, though, so I doubt they'll ask me again.

Oh, did I mention the whiskey bottle?

SLC recycles glass, but not with home pickup. Functionally, that means they don't recycle glass. Charles finished his bottle of Black Bush last week. Put those two things together and what you get is: a sad waste of a nice bottle.

Meanwhile, I'd been transferring my spices into jars (saved from jam and the like). I buy some things in bulk from Penzey's, and they come in big plastic bags. But big plastic bags don't fit well into rectangular cabinets. So I decanted things like Adobo seasoning and Za'atar into jars. But I have a pepper fetish. So there was too much for a jar.

Hmm...a nice big bottle. With a cork. Excellent. Glass: re-used, which is as good as recycled. Peppercorns: happily ensconced in a bottle. Cabinet: tidier than it was.


Of course, now I need another project.