Today, November 23, is the day that Jack Bauer and the cast of "24" return to TV. It is a day which I've been anxiously anticipating for 18 months. The writer's strike did what Russian terrorists, Colombian drug lords, and a Chinese prison couldn't do -- stop Jack Bauer. Today he will return, in Africa.

Jack has a long history with our family. During those early weeks after Azlan was born, those weeks when days and nights are all the same, Jack provided a much needed distraction. Matt rented seasons of "24" and we'd watch episode after episode during feedings. Watching Jack torture people with a cigar cutter somehow made all of the diapers, spit up, and crying more bearable for us. I did wonder if all the shooting noises might somehow affect the subconscious of my precious newborn, and I decided it was OK.

But the writer's strike took away our beloved "24" just when we'd caught up to the current season. Then the lead actor was put in jail for a DUI. Then another key actress had a baby. Then the NFL season started and Fox knows better than to run "24" against Monday Night Football. But finally, tonight, we get a two-hour "prequel" for the 7th season starting in January. I will have my popcorn ready.

Enjoy this preview to determine if "24" is your cup of tea.

A few weeks ago we took the boys to the planetarium for the first time. Patriot LOVED it and has started on this kick about space, astronauts, planets, and stars. This interest has been furthered by a couple of Star Wars video games (Wii and Leapster) that he's been playing lately. We now have a full blown obsession.

So today I decided to not be annoyed by the obsession but instead to play into it. Today he wanted to blast off in a rocket ship and go fight the bad guys in space.

OK, I said, let's go downstairs and build a rocket ship. We got out our play tools and our plastic mega blocks, all ready to build a rocket ship. Azlan and I put together a pretty nice little rocket ship, but Patriot sat with his arms crossed critiquing our work.

When we were done he announced that this rocket ship was not big enough for us to get in. We needed to go outside, get some wood, and build a big rocket ship, he decided.

Well, no, we can't build a rocket ship out of wood because it would catch on fire when we blast off into space, I explained. We'll just pretend to go onto our nice mega blocks rocket ship through this little door, we'll sit down, put on our seatbelts and countdown for blastoff!

Then Patriot got a great idea: we need to turn our car into a rocket ship. It's big enough for all of us to get in and put on our seat belts!

OK, I said. We found a remote for an old toy and covered it in aluminum foil. We printed off pictures of a rocket ship and taped them to our remote, completing our "button" that could turn anything into a rocket ship.

By now, it was naptime, so we decided we'd all get a good rest and blast off after naps. At Patriot's insistance, we "plugged in" the button so it could "charge" while we napped.

They napped a little longer than I expected and I had a Mary Kay appointment tonight, so Daddy was nominated to blast off with them this evening. According to Matt, here's how it went:

Matt hung the button on the rear view mirror and started the car. They counted down, pushed the button, yelled blast off and he hit the gas pedal. After a few moments looking out the window, Patriot was disappointed.

Daddy, it didn't work. We didn't blast off. We're still on the road.

Well, Patriot, were pretending we blasted off and we're flying in space.

No, Daddy, we have to go into the dark to go in space. We have to go off the road. Maybe the button needs to charge longer.

Guess we haven't perfected the "pretending" idea yet. But I will encourage this interest in space. I've always had a special fascination with space myself. Maybe we have a future astronaut in our house.
Today I was trying to meet a deadline so I had to work on the computer while Patriot was at school (usually our "Azlan and Me" time). After he deleted some text, pulled books off my shelves, and turn the power off on the computer, I ejected him from the office and told him to go play. I heard him throw the laundry downstairs, but figured it needed to go down there anyway so I wouldn't intervene. I kept working and suddenly realized it was way too quiet. Here' s why:

Guess all that mischief wore him out. He may not sleep at naptime now, but at least I got my project done!
We had a great time for Halloween last night. Here are some pics!

We made these pumpkin shirts ourselves! (Idea from Family Fun Magazine) First the boys helped put the rubber bands on the shirts to tie-dye them. Then we each picked out a pumpkin face online and I stenciled them on the shirts using fabric markers. Pretty cool family project, but Matt was called the dorkiest dad on the street so he says he'll never wear his again.
Here's Super Mario and Froggie just before Trick or Treating. Aren't they cute?
This is after the festivities and Mario, Froggie, and Frankenboy (Cousin Caedmon) are in a candy stupor. But none of them wanted to take off their costumes . . .