Category Archives: Things that Make You Go “Hmm …”


I meant to add this masterpiece to the last post. It’s tacked up on the Valentine’s “Love Is …” theme board in Tau’s classroom.

This is a picture of me pushing Tau in a shopping cart out of Target after buying him a Zhu Zhu pet.

“Oh wow! That’s a cute little Zhu Zhu …” pointing to the little orange guy, bottom right.
“No Mom, that’s your car in the parking lot!”

Apparently the private Kindergarten dollars are going towards teaching him visual perspective too. Bonus.


Rock-O, Winkie and the Multiples of Three

Hang around Tau a while and you’ll figure out how he goes about learning new things.

He sits back and observes for a good long while; then turns the object over and over and tries it out. He tries it out until he learns all he possibly can hands-on about how it works. The mechanical parts are of course the main focus.

Then he jumps onto the Internet and proceeds to stuff his brain with every tidbit of information available on the subject. Especially when it comes to toys. Product reviews, videos on the company’s website, related products and playsets, all the while telling us who in his Kindergarten class has which version and what that specific model can or can’t do and which one he needs to buy next.

And so it was with the Zhu Zhu toy hamsters, or rather, the Kung Zhu hamsters to begin. Tau saved up his own money and bought Rock-O, a Kung Zhu Battle Hamster. Yes, battle hamster. You can purchase related battle armor, battle arenas, battle weapons, battle vehicles and novice hamster-training dojos. Battle, battle, battle.

We learned how Rock-O scuttled along, turned around and battled inanimate objects like shoes, matchbox cars and Lego — in the absence of other toy hamsters you understand.

And then, after a week or two later, Tau told us that he wanted to “donate” Rock-O to some other kid that needed him. Apparently Rock-O made too much noise in Tau’s bed and freaked him out while he was trying to fall asleep. He finally opted to give Rock-O to his friend Talan.

“Are you SURE you want to give him away? You won’t be able to get him back. Ever.”
“I don’t want him anymore — he BOTHERS me.”

So we gave Rock-O to Talan, who loves him, and returned to our fascination with all things Lego and Hot Wheels.

Then just after Christmas, we visited the family of Tau’s friend Isabella, and Isabella has a whole family of Zhu Zhu Pets. She has a handful of hamsters, various interlocking habitats, hamster outfits, a hamster car, and a stroller in which the mommy hamster can push her babies. Sigh.

And so it started when we got home.

“But Tau, your last hamster ‘bothered’ you with all his noises.”

“Zhu Zhu Pets are not as noisy as Kung Zhu Pets.”

If you’re a parent you know that whether he was right or wrong on that isn’t the point, and that no amount of reason comes in to play when a five-year-old boy has his eye on a toy.

Eventually, Tau bought Winkie, a very sweet boy Zhu Zhu Pet, and I have to admit that he is not nearly as loud as Rock-O.

Tau also had enough money saved up to get a hamstermobile and a garage. Yes, Winkie the hamster drives his own car out of a plastic garage and around our house. The ridiculousness of this is not lost on Dave and I, trust me.

Right now (bliss!) Tau is out of money, so the requests for additional hamsters fall on deaf ears. They cost around $10 each. Not defeated, he tried a new tack the other day:

“Mom, I’m going to give you three Zhu Zhu pets for your birthday!”

“You know I don’t play with Zhu Zhu Pets, right? So why would you give them to me for my birthday?”

“If I bought you three, we could play with them together. If I buy you three, though, I will need …” pauses for a moment, ” … thirty. I will need thirty dollars to buy them.”

Oh joy. The child can multiply. Our private Kindergarten dollars are paying off.

He is an artful persuader, my son. Sitting on the kitchen counter the other day, stroking his hamster, he gently pressed Winkie’s nose, which elicited a soft chortly purr.

“Oh … that’s the noise he makes when he’s lonely, Mom. When he feels like he wants another hamster to play with.”

Shifting to Manual

One of my intentions for the year 2010 was to take a couple days to myself and go away somewhere quiet. Where I could think, sleep, read and rest.

Well into November, Dave reminded me that I still hadn’t done so. It wasn’t for lack of trying — I just hadn’t found the right spot. I finally decided on a nearby resort, somewhere secure enough that I could just relax and be.

The agenda included sleeping in, spending time in contemplation, doing some personal planning for the new year, lounging at the pool and reading, eating at least one luscious meal alone (yes, by myself, with no little hands knocking glasses off the table!), using the gym to offset said luscious meal, and getting to know my camera again!

I had a great couple days away. The time to rest and think and feel on my own has carried me lovingly into this year. I feel it under me, like a soft cloud, a gentle support.

And yes, I took my camera off Auto. I set it on Manual everything and I played around for a few hours with aperture and shutter speed and light. Unfortunately, it was a little too late in the morning — I was obliged to sleep in, remember? — so the light in many of the pictures is much harsher than I’d like. But here are a few I thought you’d enjoy!


Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Before Christmas, Tau decided that Dog needed a pair of pajamas.

Luckily I’d stashed away a pair of Tau’s that were near new but with a broken zipper. I was able to cut them down easily into a pair of PJ pants and a shirt, using the existing arm and leg cuffs, as well as the collar. So. Minimal sewing. Bonus!

Tau helped me sew the velcro squares on instead of buttons and once we were done, insisted that we make a matching pillow out of the leftovers. He stuffed the pillow with batting and helped me sew up the last seam.

Santa delivered the new PJs and pillow on Christmas morning, and a week later in Walmart, we found the perfect dog bed to round out Dog’s comfort. This is one spoiled faux hound I tell you!

The pillow:

Special hole for Dog’s tail!

Ah! This is the life!

All I Want for Christmas OR the Difference Between Five-Year-Old Boys and Girls

The kids in Tau’s class recently finished a page that illustrated what they were hoping for this Christmas.

Here is Tau’s little friend Isabella’s:

“All I want for Christmas is a mermaid.” Why? “Because she can swim.”

Tau’s wish?

“All I want for Christmas is  Hot Wheels Octo Battle. Because his HEAD BLOWS UP!”

“See Mom, I drawed his brain sticking out. The red part.” Sigh.

He assures me that this toy is useful because when the octopus’s head cracks open, the brain is made of sponge and you can use it to mop up any water you’ve messed on the table.

Oh, no, wait. My mistake. That’s Dr. Bones Color Change lab, another toy getting up there on his All I Want for Christmas list.

Age Two, Redux

I don’t know if you remember but just around the time Tau turned two, he took a flying leap off an armchair and cracked his head open on our media center.

A couple weeks later, he leapt out of his crib and fractured his wrist, ending up in a cast.

Goes without saying that Dave and I are feeling a strong sense of déjà vu these days because this is how he came home from school last night.

We’ve asked this way and that but he has no idea how he did it. Seriously?

None of the afternoon care staff saw him fall and he didn’t come to them crying. His teacher reckons he likely skidded head first on the spongy rubber mat on the play area. It’s rough enough to cause an abrasion but spongy enough that kids might not feel the fall much and just pop up and keep on running … especially if they’re chasing a buddy. Which makes me wonder what he was up to — arm in sling and all — that he didn’t even notice!

Lego Party: The Perfect Cupcake Swirl


I have two favorite cupcake decorating tools. Hmn. Make that three.

  1. My frosting spatula, which makes smoothing a flat layer of icing onto any cake a breeze (also used to to smoothe the Lego Marshmallow Pops)
  2. My disposable piping bags (I really should invest in a set of re-usable ones)
  3. My new #18 Wilton frosting tip.

Yes, I’ve finally taken a leap into the enchanting world of the swirl. When I knew I was going to make special cupcakes for my friend Andrea’s birthday and for Tau’s birthday, I decided to kick it up a notch in the frosting department.

Where do you go to learn the swirl? Duh. The Internet of course. I was pleased to learn that the swirl is even easier than it looks. Especially with the right tip.

Evidence. Even I can do it!

For Tau’s party, I made one batch of red and one batch of blue cupcakes, and then added a simple Lego cupcake topper based on these by Amy Locurto.

Though they were very cute, I’m not sure I’d do red and blue again. The amount of coloring required to get the right red and blue is downright scary.

Not that any health concerns deterred the kids from enjoying them! I love this picture of one brother and sister at the party. His cupcake matching her dress, and hers matching his t-shirt? Total fluke — but super cute nonetheless!