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.