Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lois McMaster Bujold, and a pigeon (coo!)

We went up to the University of Washington last night to see Lois McMaster Bujold, one of our favorite authors. This was the second "reading and book signing" that we've attended there which turned out not to be a reading, but she spoke and answered questions for a while before signing books. Kate was very interested in the toys at the bookstore and not at all interested in listening to these strange grown-ups, so unfortunately Doug didn't get to hear any of it. I suppose next time we do something like this we really should get a babysitter.

Here's Kate with a big Mo Willems pigeon. We currently have Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog out from the library, and Kate has been enjoying reading them over and over. (She's been practicing saying "Oh for Pete's sake!" and "Hey, I'm a curious bird!") So I was tickled when I saw this big pigeon at the bookstore. Apparently it was some kind of promotional prop, but they did say that there should be smaller versions for sale later this year.

The pigeon has his own website! Kate and I were much amused by the hotdog game.

Lois McMaster Bujold writes science fiction and fantasy and is best known for her Miles Vorkosigan series, which you could describe as space opera, but very good space opera. The "science" is mostly social and biological, with a few space battles thrown in for good measure. They're very character-driven, thoughtful, touching, at times very funny. And just so well-written. I can't give these books a blanket recommendation, because of some of the content, but I love them and keep coming back to them over and over. Memory is probably my favorite. A Civil Campaign, a close second, is absolutely charming and has been favorably compared to Jane Austen, with its regency romance flavor. We took along our copy of A Civil Campaign and got it signed. (I didn't want to drag the whole stack of books along, so we just picked out that one.)

It's been a few years since the last Miles book--Lois has been working on other things. We have enjoyed her fantasy works as well, but we are eagerly awaiting the next Miles installment next year. Yippee!

Hair today

I donated my hair! I've been thinking about doing this for a while--the last time I got my hair trimmed was right after Kate was born, and it had gotten all ragged and uneven, plus it was taking forever to dry after I took a shower (which can make things difficult when you're, say, trying to get to church on time). So I finally bit the bullet and went and did it. They took off about twelve inches. I wanted it long enough that I could still put it back in a ponytail, for swimming and stuff. I haven't figured out yet exactly what I'm going to do with it, but I imagine it'll be nice for summer. Here are the after pictures:

I told Doug that last one was my Alan Doyle impersonation, but his hair is cooler than mine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The big 2.5

Kate is officially two and a half today! A quarter of a decade. Wow. I took this picture this morning. She looks so serious and grown up. We can see little differences every day, in the way she's developing more control over her coloring, and stringing more words together in new ways all the time.

Kate has been very interested in letters lately. She points out letters on things and we tell her what they are. We've also been playing with the Starfall site a lot. She knows A, B, O, and S, and probably a few others as well. Her newest thing is that whenever I hold her up to the sink to wash her hands, she points to the knobs and says "C for cold, H for hot!" Except she keeps getting it wrong and says "H for cold."

A couple of pictures of Kate and letters:

At Kids Zone at the zoo (or, as Kate calls it, "the looz,") there's a big rubber-paved area that has words like "SWING!" "JUMP!" "SLIDE!" Kate points to the letters one at a time, and we say them out loud. "W-I-G-G-L-E," and then when we get to the end we say, "exclamation point--dot!" I think she likes that part.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Duck on my head

We've been watching some of the music videos on with Kate. There's one called "Pig on Her Head" that has a catchy tune and quite adaptable, if somewhat unlikely, lyrics. We've been playing around with it a bit, like the time Doug was carrying a box of books on his head and started singing "My dad has a box on his head."

So today, we were sitting in church and Kate was playing with the little bean-bag animals that Rebecca brings in her bag. There's a monkey, a koala, a rat, and a duck. It helps to keep Kate occupied, to have toys that she only sees on Sundays. She stood up on the pew next to me and started bouncing the duck on my head and singing "My mom has a duck on her head." Ha! This child is just too clever sometimes. I think that's the first time I've heard her put her own words in a song.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Here, kitty kitty kitty!

The latest project!

Waiting Pool

We've been saying, for a long time, that we should take Kate swimming. She loves playing in the bath and will stay in there for an hour if we let her. She's also fascinated by fountains. We found out that the wading pool at Fircrest pool is free (and open to non-Fircrest residents after 4:00), so we figured this would be a good time to try it out.

I haven't had a swimsuit for years. I found one online that I want to get, but they're out of stock in my size. So, at the moment I am still swim-less. So Doug took Kate into the water. Or not so much into as near unto. It turned out she was not as eager as we'd hoped. She does tend to be a bit on the cautious side. They spent a lot of time sitting on the edge of the pool, watching the other kids. I suppose we should have tried last year. I was impressed by some of the teeny-tiny kids that were just toddling right into the water, and having a great time. Maybe next time Kate will be ready to actually go in the water.

As I was writing this I checked the swimsuit site again, and they had what I wanted, so I ordered it! Woo hoo! I'm getting this top (pink and black) and these bottoms. I have thigh issues and... err... shaving issues, so this should be just right.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's the magic word?

"Can you say please?"
"Say 'Toast please!'"
"You say it. 'Toast please!'"
"Say 'Toast please!'"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

I hope all the daddies out there had a great Father's Day! At church they gave out candy bars. (For Mother's Day we got potted phlox plants. Mine isn't doing very well.) When the Primary kids went up to sing for the dads, Kate ran up on the stand too. Doug took her over to stand with the other kids. He said she wanted to sing the ABC song.

We got Doug a make-your-own-tie kit. Now he's trying to decide what to put on it. So many possibilities!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Grandma Mary and Grandpa Al

Doug's parents left yesterday. They were here for almost a week. We got to spend some fun time together, and I particularly enjoyed having someone around to watch Kate while I took a shower in the mornings. One morning they went out for a walk with the stroller and were gone for rather a long time, and when they got back they were pushing a different stroller! That was a surprise. They'd been up near Kmart, going up a curb when a wheel snapped right off. They went into Kmart and got us a new stroller. (The other one was a hand-me-down--the plastic buckle on the seat belt also broke recently, so we'd been resorting to tying the strap around Kate.) They also got a little toy piano keyboard for Kate, that she's been having a lot of fun with. It's the grandparents' job to get noisy toys, right?

We went downtown to ride the Link (the light rail), which Kate calls "the little train." She gets very excited about it. We went to the library, and then ended up at this fountain where we let Kate walk around on the blocks and watch the water for a while. She loves fountains.

We also went to the beach, on another day, and sifted sand while Doug graded papers. Kate likes to walk on the big driftwood logs. Sometimes she climbs up too high and makes us nervous.

On Friday we went to the Indian buffet in Lakewood for lunch, and then went to Fort Steilacoom park. This park has the coolest playground.

On previous outings we'd gotten Kate to go down this slide with a lot of coaxing, but this time she was just zipping down it all by herself. Wheee!

Here's Kate at the top and bottom of the slide. When going in at the top she would turn around and wave and say "See you later!" Too cute.

Living so far from our families, Kate doesn't get to see either set of grandparents very often. We weren't sure how she was going to react to having extra people in the house, but she quickly figured out who her new play-buddy was, and learned to say "Damma!" for Grandma. When she saw these pictures she said "That's Damma!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Recalling Korea (longing and nausea)

A couple of weeks ago we went down to Lakewood for a Korean dinner with our friends Don and Jill Tracy, who had never had Korean food before. I made this layout and just felt compelled to do all the journaling in Korean (on my tablet). I was waxing nostalgic.

My very favorite meal is a good kimchi jjigae bek pan ("bek pan" is the rice and side dish part), but to be really, really good it has to have kim (roasted laver seaweed) as well. Restaurants generally don't provide kim in their side dishes, so when I'm going to have kimchi jjigae I get my own kim and take it along. This always seems to amuse the waitresses. (Look! It's an American eating kimchi jjigae! With kim!) I tried giving Kate some kim before and she didn't like it, but this time she decided it was good and ate several pieces.

This is not where the nausea comes in (though much as I like Korean food, my stomach often does feel a little weird afterwards, especially if I haven't eaten it in a while). Yesterday we got out our home movies from Korea, which we hadn't watched in years. When Doug and I were teaching in Chonan, we borrowed a video camera and shot a few hours' worth of footage. It was fun to watch our ten-years-younger selves and remember all the fun things that we did, and our teeny apartment with the black-tiled bathroom, and Doug's hilarious bit with the green syrup ("My mama always said that one should always put melon syrup on one's pancakes"). Unfortunately, with the hand-held camera shake, I can only watch a few minutes before I start feeling queasy. Motion sickness is not generally a pervasive problem for me, but there are certain things that get to me. It's a shame. I'm sure I'd watch these videos more often if they didn't make me want to toss my cookies. Maybe one of these day we'll get them digitized and I can post short clips of the good parts.

I've been thinking about Korea a lot. Something will come up--a smell, a feeling in the air, a stand of cosmos flowers in somebody's yard, and it takes me right back. Sometimes I miss it so badly it hurts. Actually as the weather has been warming up, my desire to go to Korea has been waning somewhat, thinking about how beastly hot and humid it gets there in the summer. The urge seems to strike mostly in the Spring and Fall. Fall in Korea is just so heart-achingly beautiful. I always get kind of wistful in the fall, anyway.

I've been lucky--after my mission, I got to go back to Korea twice. Many people never get to go back at all. But it's been ten years now, almost, and the itch returns. I've been trying to figure out how we could go back again. When Doug and I went and taught in Chonan, we'd only been married about six weeks when we arrived. People were surprised that we would do something like that so soon after getting married, but really, when else are you going to do it? We had both recently graduated (Doug had finished his M.A.), had no house, no jobs, no kids--sure, let's run off and see the world! We did, and it was great fun. And after Korea, we got to spend three years in Newfoundland. I miss Newfoundland a lot too, though I don't dream about it very much. But settling down (sort of), accumulating lots of stuff and obligations and two large and complex computer systems, not to mention a child, makes uprooting and taking off a rather more daunting prospect.

I find myself drawn to stories about families who get to raise their kids in more than one culture. There's something very appealing in the idea, an increased richness of experience, a different understanding, perhaps a focusing of priorities, after seeing what things are important to people in different places. I recently ran across the story of this American girl (at least I guess she's American--Belgian father, American mother) graduating from high school in Korea. Rural Korea, even. There's also a video at the bottom of this page. She just sounds so astonishingly Korean to me. I am intrigued. I would love for my kids to have an opportunity like that. Maybe not actually attending a Korean high school, knowing what they go through, but, well, it is intriguing.

I've felt a sense of urgency, for some reason, to go, go, do it now before life gets even more complicated. But I have to keep telling myself that Korea will still be there. It changes, but it will still be there. I'll get back somehow, eventually. Maybe to stay for a while, maybe just to visit--long enough to walk the mountains, to explore, to eat, and of course take lots of pictures. Someday.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Putting the Fun back in Fungi

A couple of years ago, when my family was visiting for the occasion of Kate's birth, I sent my dad out for salad makings and we got into a discussion about who did and didn't like mushrooms. After identifying the fungophobes and fungophiles, we got a little wacky.

If you're afraid of mushrooms you're a fungophobe.
If you like mushrooms you're a fungophile.

Which means...

If you're afraid of people who like mushrooms you're a fungophilophobe
and if you like people who are afraid of mushrooms you're a fungophobophile.

This can, of course, be applied to lots of other words. Think of the possibilities!

Friday, June 01, 2007


I was just commenting on my sister-in-law Karen's poetry blog, and said that "Tim'rous Beastie" would be a great screen name. Things like this pop into my brain every once in a while, and I think, "Wow, that would be a great screen name!" but can I remember them later? I really need to start writing them down. Not that I really need a lot of alternate screen names. But you never know when one might come in handy.

Yesterday Kate woke up around 6:30--much earlier than she usually gets up--and was able to spend a little time with Daddy before he left for his morning classes. That was nice. She sure loves her Daddy. Then when I got out of the shower I found her sound asleep on the floor, right outside the bathroom, with her bum up in the air. She never does this (never falls asleep on the floor, I mean. She does sleep in this position sometimes). I just had to take a picture.

We discovered that Doug doesn't have any classes for summer quarter at his main school, and he's not hopeful of getting any at the other places he teaches either. I guess enrollment is down this summer. So he'll be looking for something else to do for a few months. I suppose there's a chance that he might find something that could end up being a better job for him. Though we do enjoy the amount of time he gets to spend at home, with his teaching schedule. I was contemplating that the other day--there's the uncertainty of the part-time teaching position, but on the other hand we get to do a lot of things together. Yesterday we spent a couple of hours at the beach. Kate and I played in the sand while Doug graded papers. Now we just need somebody to hire him full time. It's not that he doesn't want to teach, he'd just like to do it with a little more stability.

Doug's parents are coming on Monday. I need to finish getting the place cleaned up. Good incentive.