Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Birthday TWO you!

Yes, it's true--we have a two-year-old. We knew this was both inevitable and imminent, but it's still a bit hard to believe.
For Kate's birthday we took her to the zoo. It's been cold but it was a nice day for it. She got to ride the carousel twice, once with Dad and once with Mom, and we spent a lot of time in the Kids' Zone, as has become customary.

They have this long double slide (the otter slide) that Kate can go down all by herself. It's never a very fast slide, and people often get stuck halfway down, but the cold seemed to slow it down even more. Kate had to pull herself along with her feet the whole way. She sure enjoyed it, though--I think she went down maybe four times.

Kate is growing, learning, adding to her vocabulary, and stringing more words together. It's sometimes a struggle to communicate, but we are often impressed by her resourcefulness in getting her point across. She's rather opinionated and strong-willed, and we are doing our best to try to teach her and enjoy her at the same time. She loves all animal toys and is firmly convinced that any animal toy she sees, anywhere, is there for her to play with. She had a brief meltdown at the zoo when we prevented her from swiping a stuffed monkey off someone else's stroller.

Kate dances. There are a couple of movies that she watches that have songs that she always has to dance to--usually with one of us, but she'll dance on her own if necessary. In Bambi, it's the part where the bucks are racing around the meadow, to very exciting music. She knows when that scene is coming, and she'll run over to me, hold up her arms, and say, "Dance! Dance!" Then I pick her up and we whirl around the living room, bouncing up and down. When it's over she points at the TV and says, "More dance! More dance!" and we rewind and do it again. (I have a feeling she would be content to rewind and repeat all day, if she could find a dance partner with that much energy).

Kate makes us laugh. Sometimes at inappropriate moments. Last week in church, she was sitting on the floor near my feet and bonked her head (not hard) against the leg of the pew. She clapped her hand to her head and said, "Oh! That hurts!" And then she did it again. Bonk. "Oh! That hurts!" (Actually it was more like, "Das Huws!") I could almost see her thought process--"If I do this again, will it still hurt? Hmmm, yep, still hurts. Let's try it again. Ow!" She did it about six or seven times in a row, clutching her head dramatically each time and exclaiming loudly. I was laughing so hard I was wiping tears from my eyes.

Happy Birthday, Squidgit! We are blessed to have you in our family.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Here's Kate on the horse that Scott got her for Christmas. She loves it. It's bigger than she is. We have named the horse Bucky. (Doug says his full name is Buckminster Fuller.)

We had a nice Christmas at home. Kate got some more Schleich animals to add to the herd. (She is loving the deer family, especially.) Doug got me another 1 gig memory card for my camera (yay!) and I got him Creature Comforts on DVD. We also got the game Apples to Apples from my parents. We'll have to round up some friends to play.

Kate seemed like she kind of got the idea of opening presents, but she did need help. She's been enjoying the Christmas tree and always wants it plugged in right away when we get back from being out of the house. She hasn't been too bad about pulling things off the tree. If she wants to play with a non-breakable ornament, then we'll get it down for her for a while.

That's our tree! Some of the ornaments are ones that I had growing up. Others we got this year. I had a fun time tying ribbon on them. (Kate had fun with the ribbon too--she kept walking off with it and unwinding the spool.)

We hope you all had a great Christmas!

Computers can DO that?

All the learning, doodling, and playing around finally coalesced into me, the graphics tablet, and Painter getting together to create a finished product. The moment at which this happened was not entirely convenient, as it was right in the middle of Christmas. I haven't been at this designing thing for too long, but two particular things that I have learned are: A) Stuff always takes longer than I think it's going to, and B) Trying to get something done by a specific deadline leads to a lot of stress and to other things getting neglected. I've spent too many Saturday nights frantically trying to finish something up and get it in the store before Sunday. So I'd told myself that I wasn't going to do that anymore. But, well, when the inspiration struck, it was Christmas inspiration, and I wanted to get it up in the store at least before the end of Boxing Day. So maybe there were a few things that didn't get done--like some additional planning for Kate's birthday--but I guess it all worked out okay.

I was thinking back to the first computer my parents got, when I was maybe eleven--the old Mac with 512K of RAM. It had a graphics program called MacPaint that I spent hours playing with, awkwardly drawing things with the mouse in big pixelly patterns. All black and white, of course. I was fascinated by it. I remember there was a horse head that I spent a lot of time on, looking at a picture in a magazine and then trying to reproduce it as best I could with the program's limited capabilities. There was also a program called MacDraw that we could never figure out. Years later, after I learned to use Corel Draw, I realized that it was a vector graphics program. If my eleven-year-old self could see the stuff I get to play with today, she would be completely freaked out, enthralled, astounded.... Doug recently found a sound clip of Homer Simpson saying "Computers can DO that?" which he added to his machine (to play on a certain action). I feel that way a lot. Holy cow, computers can do that? Amazing. (I think I need to get some more RAM, though. Painter stumbles a bit. It should be happier with more RAM.)

I call this one "All Aglow." It was all done with the tapered chalk in Corel Painter IX.5. I love this program. I love my tablet. Sigh.

(Here's a link to the product in the store.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

So sumi

Yes, I've gone off the deep end--I'm in love with a brush stroke. I got Corel Painter IX.5 a few days ago. So far I've just been watching the training videos and playing with it just a little, but I'm impressed by how much is there. This is a sumi brush--done with a mouse, even, not the tablet. That's one well-programed brush. It's really amazing that they can figure out how the brushes and media interact, convert it all to numbers, and recreate it with the computer. I am going to have such fun with this program.

The night the lights went out

The big windstorm swept through on Thursday. It was not entirely unexpected. "Big storm coming!" people said. "Be prepared!" We were at the library that evening, and then went to I Love Bento for dinner. The storm was fitful, with gusts of wind and pounding rain that started and stopped suddenly. It didn't seem too bad at first. The power went out around 1:00 in the morning. Kate was a little distressed to be without her night light. We stayed in bed till it was light outside. I had a banana for breakfast.

Scott's power was still on (across town) so we spent a few hours over there. He had a nice warm shower, and a stove to warm up the keema matar leftovers from our fridge. When Kate got cranky we tried to take her for a walk outside, but it was just too cold and windy. She really wanted to leave--she went up to our car and patted it, and cried when we told her we couldn't go home right then. We thought maybe we'd go over to Borders (bookstore) and let her play there for a while, if they were open. While on the road, Doug said we should call Cousin Lonnie in Puyallup. First we had to call Doug's dad to get Lonnie's number. Then I called Lonnie (Doug was driving). "Do you have power?" I asked. "Yes!" he said. "Want to come over here tonight? Come over! We'll make dinner. How does Vietnamese noodle soup sound?" Wonderful. The first time we had pho was at Lonnie's house, when we first came out here. Cousin Robbie served a mission in California speaking Laotian, and introduced his family to many interesting foods on his return.

We didn't make it to Borders. We stopped by our place to pack up clothes and things--extra diapers, sleepers, a few stuffed animal friends for Kate. We didn't know how long we might be gone, so we packed for two days. It was getting dark outside again, so the packing was done with the aid of a single small maglight. We do have candles--there was one Christmas a few years ago where it seemed like we got nothing but candles--but, unfortunately, we do not seem to have any matches. Kate seemed simultaneously glad to be home and upset by the dark.

Lonnie and Martha's house was warm and welcoming, and Kate was just a happy little girl the whole time we were there. She ate lots of noodles from her bowl of pho, went to play for a few minutes, and then came back for some more. The meat was buffalo, pressure-cooked to perfection. We got a bed in the spare room. Getting Kate to sleep was the hard part--I kept laying her down and she kept popping back up again. We were tired; she was having too much fun.

In the morning we called our home phone and the answering maching picked up, so we figured the power was back on. We had a nice breakfast and took our time getting ready to go. Kate didn't want to leave.

Our power was out for a day. Probably less than twenty-four hours. Other people went several days without power. It was eerie, driving through town and seeing all the dark houses and streets. A couple of large sections of wooden fence by our apartment complex blew down. They're saying it was the Northwest's worst windstorm in recorded history. It made me realize how unprepared we are. We were glad to have somewhere to go, and friends and family that could help us out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Merry Christmas. Now get out.

We just got notice that our apartments are going to be sold as condos, and we have 90 days to vacate. We are not happy. We've just barely been here a year! Ah well. I suppose this will lead to... something. At this point we sure can't say what. Maybe we can find another nice place with a little yard area like we have here.

The timing stinks. We hate moving.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Giraffe, take 2

AmyB said she wanted a copy of my giraffe doodle for her son, so I said I'd make her a better one.

I used a reference photo for this one, one of Scott Coulter's from pbase. I always work better from reference materials. The original has a particular quirk that I didn't replicate here, though. Check it out for some giraffe humor.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I'm on a roll tonight! I just discovered the "tapered gouache" brush. What a gorgeous line!


Theresa said I should draw something with my tablet and post it, so here are a couple of doodles. I've been playing around with Corel Painter Essentials. I haven't gotten very far into it yet, but I'm already thinking I'm going to have to spring for the full Painter program. So here's a giraffe for my sisters (Barb, who collects them, and Kirsten, who has been wanting giraffe stuff lately), and an apple. Yum.

The tablet is marvelous. I've heard people say it takes a while to get used to using the pen. I haven't found it that difficult, at least as far as pointing and clicking and drawing strokes. There is a lot to learn, just with the different things that it can do in Photoshop and other programs. There's a whole level of pressure-sensitive controls in the PS brushes that you can't utilize with a mouse. Certainly enough to keep me busy for a good long while.

Kate thinks it's pretty cool too--I've let her scribble with the stylus a few times. I shall have to keep it away from her so she doesn't decide to color on it with something else.

I would prefer to title this "practising," because I think it looks better spelled the British way. Those two c's are just weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's here!

My graphics tablet has arrived. Now I just have to figure it out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow Day

Kate says, "Hey Mom, what's all that white stuff?"

We have snow! We had some light flurries coming down at lunch time yesterday, and Kate was sitting in her highchair watching the snow through the sliding glass doors. After we finished eating I bundled her up and took her outside, in her new hat and her oversized mittens which didn't stay on long. Before long we had big wet splatty flakes. Kate didn't quite know what to think. She was intrigued but kind of hesitant. (I think we got our Christmas card picture there--isn't it cute?)

Both of Doug's schools canceled classes today, so we had a cozy day at home. My graphics tablet was supposed to be delivered today, which would have been great since Doug was home to help me hook it up, but it didn't come. Apparently the UPS man was affected by the weather, too. We hope it comes tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Doug and I haven't generally made a big deal of Christmas. Some years we've spent with family, but when we've just been home alone we haven't gotten a tree. (Though we did once make two little paper ornaments and hang them on a baby orange tree that someone had given us.) And last year we were in Utah for Barb's wedding, and then spent Christmas with Doug's sister Melody and her family.

This year we are going to be home, and we are getting a tree. I've been collecting decorations. Kate is quite intrigued by some of the ornaments in the stores, and all the snowmen--she's in snowman heaven. This is going to be a fun Christmas.

And I ordered a graphics tablet! Hooray! I've been wanting one for a long time. I paid for it all myself, with the money I made designing. Now I just have to wait for it to get here! I've been having dreams about it and everything. Ooooh.

The lovely and very talented Gina Miller mentioned my painted flower brushes on her blog today. I'm all a dither.

Hookin' up words and phrases and clauses (and weird numbers)

We got the Schoolhouse Rock DVD! It's so fun. Parts of speech, multiplication tables, history, science, politics, and economics, all set to catchy music! I remember watching some of these as a child. ("Elbow Room" was one that had always stuck with me, for some reason.) There were some that were completely new to me and some that I recognized when I saw them. One of my new favorites is "Rufus Xavier Sasparilla." I love the piano part. There's a "shuffle all songs" feature that we have been making good use of. Kate seems to enjoy it, too. Maybe she'll even learn something.

I had an odd thought while watching the multiplication videos. There's the nine song, which mentions that you can add together the digits in any product of nine and get nine. And then there's the twelve song (which is kind of trippy) that starts out with a bit about how if man had been born with six digits on each hand and foot, we would do our math in base twelve. So I started wondering if that particular quality of nine is a function of the base. I asked on Two Peas and someone referred me to this base conversion table. Yes, it turns out that in base twelve, eleven behaves like nine in base ten (that is, the digits in any product of eleven will add up to eleven), and in base five, four works that way, and so on. Pretty cool.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A room of one's own

After we've been in this apartment for a whole year, we are finally getting Kate's room set up for her. We got her a mattress (at the store, she was rolling around on the mattresses yelling, "Lie down! Lie down!") and we got these shelves at Target. She was in her highchair finishing up dinner while I was putting all her toys on the shelves, and when she came in and saw it her whole face just lit up.

Kate loves lining up her toys and putting them into things (and making her animals walk along windowsills and such), so she's been having fun with her shelves. As she was investigating her shelves I got the camera to take these pictures of her, and when she heard the camera she turned around and gave me a big grin like she was posing for me (which she never does), and said, "That fun!" The shelves are a big hit. Of course, they don't look like this anymore. Putting things away will be a long-term lesson, I'm sure.

Gone in 60 seconds

Our car was stolen for a few hours last week. It all turned out okay, but it made for an exciting morning.

Thursday morning Doug went out to drive the car to work and it wasn't there. He came in to ask me if I had parked it somewhere else, but I knew I hadn't, so he called the police to report it stolen. Just as he was making the report, someone else was running the plates on a suspicious-looking car a few blocks away. It had been abandoned in a residential neighborhood with the windows rolled down, and something about it apparently caught a local police officer's attention. So Doug went to pick it up, and he had me call the school to let them know he was going to be a little late.

We have two Acura Legends (both bought used). It seems they tried to take the other one, too, as the lock had been jimmied, but I guess they weren't able to get it started. The funny thing is that the one that they took is the one with the bad transmission (it won't shift into fourth gear) and the dashboard lights that hardly ever work. We aren't sure why they abandoned it a few blocks away--perhaps they just got where they were going--but I can just picture the thieves saying, "Man, this car stinks! Let's ditch it." Ha. If they were looking to go joyriding, they were disappointed.

The only lingering effect from the car's misadventure is a couple of damp seats (not the driver's seat, thankfully). Kate's car seat was untouched in the back, and even Doug's leather cap that he had left on the passenger's seat was still there. The whole thing reminds me of a couple that used to be in our ward at church--she was an opera singer, and he was a tuba player in a symphony. Someone broke into their car and rifled through their CD collection and didn't take anything. It's got to be oddly comforting to know that you're not even cool enough to steal from.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just sayin'

A couple of things that come up every year, that I just wanted to address here to get them out of my system:

Snowflakes have six sides.

Those Rankin Bass Christmas specials are not claymation. They used stop-motion puppets.

The wise men were not present at the nativity.

(Okay, that's three things.)

Wait! I thought of another one. The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days after Christmas, not before.

That is all.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Out of the mouths of Babes

Kate has learned to say "Baa Ram Ewe!" That's from the movie Babe. We've been watching it a lot lately. Kate has been increasing her vocabulary, and trying to copy the things we say more. Sometimes she even gets the context right. The other day I said to Doug, "I'm tired of being sick." Doug said, "Me too!" and Kate said "Me too!" We just had to laugh.

We've been functioning below normal pretty much all week. (Halloween was a bust, as well.) Kate's feeling a lot better, but now Doug's got it pretty bad. I went to church just to teach my Primary class today and discovered that I had no class. I guess everybody's sick.

Here's a recent picture of Kate, just for fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Painting Flowers (the hard way)

(Note:  These are now available here.)

I was ambushed by a project! I've been missing for a few weeks. I wasn't really gone, I was painting. I made some digital brush strokes and put them up at ndisb a little while ago, and then I had another brilliant idea, which just kind of expanded and grew and took over the apartment. So I've been playing with paint, on large sheets of watercolor paper spread across the kitchen floor (when Kate was sleeping or otherwise occupied), covering them with brush strokes of green acrylic paint (why green? I don't know, it was just what I grabbed. And I like green), frequently filling entire sheets with the same stroke, over and over, till I got some that I liked. I scanned the paint strokes (after waiting for them to dry, of course), and turned them into Photoshop brushes. And then I did it again. And again. And then when I started actually using them to make things, I realized where my gaps were, and then it was back to more painting and scanning.

Here's the final product--83 different brushes (I honestly didn't know there were that many till I finished up and counted them all). My approach changed a bit as I went, so I ended up with a couple of different styles that don't really match, but I just kept them all together anyway. And then there was all the organizing and indexing and packaging, which always takes a while. But I finally got it up in the store yesterday, and announced it in a post at digishoptalk that was well received. I'm excited and pleased with the way it turned out. (Yay!)

Here are my painted flowers (and bamboo! Well, it's a grass). I gave my brushes a good test run and was able to make a bunch of different kinds of things, which was fun. I put all of these examples into a free sampler pack at ndisb (as png files, with transparent backgrounds), to show off my brushes. I think I like the apple blossoms best. Or the fushia.

Now it's finally done and I've got a bit of that post-project stupor, while I'm trying to get my brain on track and refocus on life without paint strokes. I've still got some brushes in a cup of water by the sink that I haven't washed out yet, and all these large sheets of paper that I shall have to find a home for. Then on to the next project!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

An evening with Pterry

Friday evening we went up to the University of Washington to see Terry Pratchett, one of our favorite authors. He's often referred to as "Pterry" online, because of his book Pyramids, which takes place in an Egypt-like setting and features characters with names like Pteppic, and a girl named Ptraci who says all "t" words with a P in front of them.

Our friend Tom, also a fan, came along too. Kate also, perforce, went with us. She did pretty well, though Doug took her out a couple of times. We brought along her Schleich lion and tiger for her to play with, and she got a bit loud with them. She'd say "Raah!" in her cute little voice, and we'd say, "Shhhh!" We didn't want to disturb the people near us who were trying to listen to Terry.

The event was advertised as a reading of his new book Wintersmith, but he didn't actually read anything. He talked for a while and told us about the upcoming Hogfather movie (yay!), and signed books. He's a fun speaker. (Speaking of Nick Tennant, who is playing Nobby in the movie, he said, "He was not born Nobby, but he has achieved Nobbiness.")

For the book signing, they divided the crowd up into groups of a hundred according to the numbers on our ticket stubs. Mine was #422, but a guy who wasn't staying for the signing gave me his ticket #81, so I got in the first group and didn't have to wait long. (Which was great, because by the time we got out of there and went to find some food it was 9:00.)

There were some very creative costumes in the audience. Here Kate checks out Quoth the Raven and the Death of Rats.

We have most of the Discworld books at home, but we decided to take along just Where's My Cow? (A Discworld picture book for people of all sizes) and get it signed for Kate. While we don't read it to her every evening at 6:00, it has been in the favorite-book rotation. I remember once reading it six or seven times in one day. She enjoys the animal sounds, and pointing out things in the pictures. There's even a picture of Terry on the last page that she can point to. ("Where's the baby? Where's the ball? Where's Terry Pratchett?") He signed it, "To Kate--Here's your cow!"

We had a fun evening. We'd listened to a Terry Pratchett interview online before, but we'd never seen him in person. Our other favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, was the guest of honor at Norwescon this year, but we didn't find out about it till after the fact. Phooey.

Check out Doug's Douggerel page for a Discworld-related poem ("With A-Poe-logies to 'The Raven'").

And since two people in one day sent me this link, I must include it here: Discworld Cake.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

All tied up

I've gotten a bit behind on the blogging thing, since I've been doing a lot of digital design work. I spent a few days making this sheer ribbon knot. It was a fun challenge (and I think it looks pretty cool!) This is part of a kit that I've been working on, that's taking quite a while. I have lots of ideas and lots of things I want to do, but only so many hours in the day, alas!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Back to school

Doug started classes yesterday. He's teaching four classes this quarter, so he'll be busy. It always takes a while to adjust to the new schedule and figure out meals and showers and things. The hardest part this time is that Doug needs the good car for several hours in the middle of the day, which makes it tough to get anything done.

I picked up a chunk of brie for a dollar the other day (why it was only a dollar, I don't know) and yesterday I gave Kate some, spread on Triscuits. A bit later Kate came up and said, "More cheese?" and handed me a soggy cracker with all the cheese sucked off. Kate likes Triscuits. Apparently she likes brie even more.

I made a sudoku tutorial and posted it on Two Peas. I had made the graphics quite a while ago, so when I went to write up the explanation last night, it took me a while to remember what I had done on some of the steps. I wasn't sure if it would all make sense, but a few people said they were able to solve a puzzle for the first time after reading my explanation, so I guess it worked!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Road Trip!

We drove down to Klamath Falls, Oregon, to visit Doug's parents. We left the day after our anniversary, a Thursday, and got back the following Thursday. It's a nine hour drive if you go straight there, but we decided to take two days and go down the coast. There were parts of the coast that Doug had never seen before, and he felt that, as an Oregonian, he was remiss in not visiting that area. So we went out through Montesano, crossed over at Astoria and went down from there.

Kate did pretty well in the car, especially the first day when it was all new. We stopped in Neskowin and she got to experience her first real sandy beach. She was quite intrigued.

At a lookout over Heceta Head, Doug got out to take a picture of the lighthouse. It was so windy we could feel it inside the car.

We hit Florence as it was getting dark. We had dinner at Mo's. (The clam chowder was yummy, but disagreed with me later, unfortunately.) One of the ladies there gave Kate a little stuffed fish from their gift shop. We named it Florence.

We spent the night at a hotel in Eugene. The next morning we discovered the Market of Choice right by a little Korean place where we had eaten a couple of times before. What a cool store. (Kind of expensive, but very cool.) We were particularly impressed by their pizza oven.

We drove on to Klamath Falls, stopping at Salt Creek Falls and Collier Park on the way (where Kate wanted to ride in a swing, but they didn't have the right kind), and got there in the afternoon.

We had a nice few days visiting with family and friends. Kate got to meet a couple of cousins, and had a great time playing with Grandma's toys. The slide in the backyard was just her size.

She was also quite fascinated by the covered fire pit. We managed to keep her from getting too dirty.

We had dinner one night at the Thai Orchid Cafe in town. As soon as we got Kate strapped into the highchair, she started saying, "Rice! Rice!" She knew what she wanted. We got her some rice. (After the rest of us got our food, though, she kept asking for more of my noodles.) The food was very good but disagreed with me, again. I had bad luck with food this trip.

The morning that we left we were having oatmeal, and Kate asked for rice again. When I told her there was no rice she started to cry. Grandma made her some rice. (Basmati! Yum.) She just likes rice.

We drove up to St. Helens (near Portland) and spent the night with Doug's brother Craig and his family, where Kate had a great time bothering their cats, and we didn't get any pictures. From there it was just a couple of hours home, a nice easy drive. (Kate was getting pretty fractious by then, and didn't sleep at all on that last leg.)

We had a good trip and were glad to get home. It was nice to get away together, and renew some ties. We've been relaxing and recuperating, since Doug has just a week before he starts teaching again. It feels like the season changed while we were gone, which is kind of startling. It's quite suddenly autumnal.

I still haven't processed our pictures from Ohio. I need to do that.