Friday, July 30, 2010

Nuts for NCIS

My latest addiction:  NCIS.
This FOX show totally floors my earlier addiction to CSI.  CSI has nothing on NCIS all of a sudden.  To metaphor, CSI is a community playground to NCIS 5-floor jungle gym!
The series is well played out in content and stories and characterization.  It's impossible to not fall in love with every single character on here because you feel like you actually know them personally.  Ok, maybe that's pushing it too far.  But maybe... not quite.  
I do 'know' Mark Harmon (Gibbs) from his matinee idol days --and man, has he aged beeeyootifully!  I also 'know' David McCallum (Ducky) from his Sapphire and Steel days (oh yeah, this is waaaay long, long ago).  He was an action man in that old TV show and I can safely say that he's rocking the old man medical technician role better.  I can stretch to 'knowing' Pauley Perrette (Abby) only because we share the same goth dressing style.  
Michael Weatherly (Dinozzo), Cote de Pablo (Ziva), and Sean Murray (McGee), I've never 'known'.  But I'm getting to know and like them pretty quick.  
Casting is key to a successful TV series and NCIS so nailed that end of the deal.  Lovable, engaging characters on top of heart-stopping, engaging story lines and a mysterious overall plot line.  This show slays me.  Simply, utterly slays me.

Bring the Piggy Back

It's old school. But it works. The amazing home-based piggy bank! 
It's an awesome tool for kids so they learn how to save their allowances for a rainy day. But what most adults didn't know is that it's an honest to goodness back-up reservoir for parents, too ...specially during those stormy days.  

I've been taking care of my plastic, neon green baby for 5 years. It's been storing change I get from buying chips and fries. For a moment, it also played an important role as The Evil Porkchop in one of Kenji's games. I only decided to end its term when the family thought of indulging in some untimely luxury, and when the heavy pig fell on Jing's foot and temporarily immobilized his little toe. It was a sign that it was time.  
Admittedly, I was a bit emotional as Jing sawed the pig open --and as the kids cheered, "Die! Die! Die!!!" (don't let our morbidity fool you. we're actually a sweet bunch.) But as soon as its coiny innards spilled out, I felt triumphant seeing that I have saved so much. And spending that money even on something luxurious (by our standards anyway) didn't make me feel guilty at all. It felt like a reward after all those years. This is what it's for!  

Seriously, it's great to have money stowed away in the bank, in savings, time deposits, stocks, etc. But for guiltless frivolity, there's the pig --even if you think you're too adult for it. Just make sure it's good and heavy when you end its service. I mean, really, what the hell is a skinny  pig.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Speedy and Not So Sleepy Sandwich

Sandwich as a quick kiddie snack is a parent's best friend.  No fuss, no mess, and kids love the mobility it brings. 

But of course, my husband --who's recently dubbed himself as Chef Jing-- wouldn't allow that monotony to get in the way of food enjoyment.  The man has sandwich creativity up his sleeve.  Which he has demonstrated on a whole lot of sandwiches but I'm posting the ones of Miro's White Bread and Cheese Spread Combo to show the full versatility effect.

Introducing the Sandwich Sailboat.

The Cheese and Chips Campfire.

The CheeseKebab!

Props included are his trusty bread knife and a whole lot of wicked imagination.  This food art is applicable on all types of sandwiches, and enjoyable for all types of kids.  Just let your mind run away with it and fun eating will automatically take shape.

Boring sandwich again?  Oh no, not this time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Playgrounds: An Overthought

Should you lower your standards because your money well has gone completely low?  Should you forsake quality knowing that the quantity of pennies in your pocket is close to nil?

But when it comes to your kids, you tend to forget that your lifestyle has completely changed (read:  that from a decent human being, you have been demoted to a a sewer rat's big toe's ingrown).  Somehow, you cling to your ideal benchmark of parenting.  And you do what you must to get back that tiny power so you can bring your kids to Cosmic Kidz instead of Kidz Republic.

Did I lose you there?  Allow me to explain.  You see, I haven't brought my kids out in 2 months.  The drill has always been school-home-school-home, and for weekends, a happy stare down with the TV and old pieces of homebased gadgets that don't need gas to run.  It was ok at first.  But eventually, my boys started to realize that they're being imprisoned.  They never tell me straight.  But there's always that, "Mimi, are we just staying home this weekend?", and "It's really hot in this house.".  Or the more painfully blatant, "I'm booooored to deeeeath...!!!"

So this is me biting the bullet again with 2 playground choices for this weekend.

On your left is Cosmic Kidz, a five-story building of interactive scientific fun.  On your right is Kidz Republic, a three-story section filled with, uh, jungle adventure mixed with sports, and some non-conceptual shooting.  

Cosmic Kidz stays true to its play theme with a high-tech entrance manned by robot guards.  Kidz Republic has the kiddie party thing going with adorable animal mascots in costume mounted on the walls.

Cosmic Kidz has a soft orb pool as opposed to Kidz Republic's regular plastic ball pool.

Cosmic Kidz' battle arena has a centerpiece alien formation target so the kids have shooting focus.  Kidz Republic's shooting range can be likened to a psycho attack --Shoot anywhere!  Take your anger out on the world!!!

It's not a fair review, I know, since I haven't been to either.  But my advertising training passionately tells me that you can only pull out a good idea into its different parts thematically, seamlessly.  And Cosmic Kidz is ferociously tight on keeping with its theme.  In fact it spends big on quality play things just to carry on their science edutainment theme.  Kidz Republic, I'm sad to say, lacks that crucial thinking.  What it has is the 'Grab every cheap play thing in sight until we fill up this playground!' kind of thinking.  The only interesting thing about it so far is that the playground employees are called Republicans --I kid you not.

Cosmic Kidz is double the price of Kidz Republic.  So logically, Kidz Republic is more appropriate for my kind of sewer rat's big toe's ingrown's budget.

But you know what --screw logic.