Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas food

This is one of the things that I got for Doug for Christmas. Salt! Not just any salt--Danish Viking-Smoked Sea Salt. We don't know if this means it's smoked by Vikings, or perhaps on Vikings. Doug thinks it's pretty cool. We've been enjoying trying it on things. A little goes a long way. We liked it in our bacon lentil soup, and on salmon.

I ordered some Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale for Barb and Kyle (completely forgetting that they were going to Ohio for Christmas, but it worked out okay. It was delivered the day before they left). Doug also brought home some for us, from Tacoma Boys. It's expensive, but hey, it's Christmas. We have gotten it once before and liked it. It has kind of a grainy texture and a nice flavor, and it's really good with pear.

We got Ratatouille for Christmas (from Betsey!) and were disappointed to discover that there's no commentary on the DVD. Bummer! I was looking forward to hearing Brad Bird. We also borrowed Stardust from Scott this past weekend. I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was very nicely self-contained and well realized. But it doesn't have a commentary either. What's up with that?

Tonight we are going to go over to Rebecca's and play Settlers, and snack. Sounds like fun. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Yes, it's true, we have a three year old. We are still rather stunned by this fact, but I'm sure it'll sink in eventually.

Kate has been learning about birthday parties, and blowing out candles and things, from Blues Clues and other sources. She's also been fascinated by candles ever since we put one in her jack o' lantern. So we knew we would have to have candles. Not being much into cake, though, we just cut a slab of panettone and stuck the candles in that. (Which was fine--Kate likes panettone.)

Kate watches Daddy light the candles. ("Candles! And little fire!" she said.) She couldn't quite figure out the blowing-out part, so Daddy helped with that.

Kate and the swag. She's finally getting the hang of unwrapping, but still needs a little help. (We've been trying to discourage paper tearing, in general.)

Aww, big smile! "It's Thomas!"

I found these cute boots for Kate (yeah, I forgot to take the price tag off. Oops). We've had a little snow this year (including some on Christmas day, which was lovely), but nothing that stuck. But hey, it could happen. Kate wore her boots when we went out later, and we were singing the Laurie Berkner song, with some adaptation: "In my pink boots! In my pink boots! I stomp around in my pink boots!"

More dinosaur stuff from Scott. Where on earth we're going to put it all, we have no idea.

We went out to the Indian buffet in Lakewood for lunch. Kate ate quite a bit, but finished before we did, of course, and then we had to try to keep her contained while we ate. That was a bit tricky.

After lunch we went over to the nearby Barnes and Noble and hung out there for quite a while. Kate thinks of bookstores as places that have toys. Oh yeah, and books, too. We found some cool pop-ups.

We also got Kate the Scholastic Knuffle Bunny video. Here she is watching it with her daddy (and her pigeon, and her Thomas), and following along in the book. Kate loves the Knuffle Bunny video. I think we've watched it like fifteen times already. (It's short.)

The video has some very cute framing stuff with Mo Willems and his daughter Trixie. (You can see quite a bit of it on amazon.) Oh, and apparently Knuffle Bunny is a girl. Who knew?

In the book, Mo Willems thanks the 358 6th Avenue Laundromat, the site of Knuffle Bunny's misadventure. I wonder if the laundromat has anything celebrating their literary fame. Is there a signed Mo Willems doodle on the wall? Do Knuffle Bunny fans make pilgrimages to the laundromat, and vie for the opportunity to put quarters into the "M" machine?

Kate just came in and saw what I was doing, and wanted to watch Knuffle Bunny again. These scholastic videos are pretty cool. We should get some more.

Our little girl is getting so big! (I know I've said that before, but she keeps getting bigger!) She's talking so much these days, and we are all enjoying the wonders of communication. We can tell each other things! Yes! She still has some pronoun confusion--when she's having trouble with something, she hollers, "Can I help you?" and when she wants to hand us something she holds it out and says, "Give it to me?" She's also become very interested in the smoke alarm, which she calls the "smokel arm." It's too cute. I know we'll miss these baby things as she gets older.

Happy birthday, Kate! I think three will be fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas pigeon (and dinosaurs!)

I was hoping to get the Christmas pictures posted before Kate's birthday, but things have been a little crazy around here.

Christmas morning Kate slept late. Doug went in and asked her, "Do you want to get up and open presents?" and she said, "No, want to stay here." Doug said to me, "I'm sure that's the last time we'll ever hear that!"

The first thing we opened was Kate's Fergus pajamas (from the David Shannon book). I found them online a few months ago and showed them to Kate, and asked her if she liked them and if she would rather have the blue ones or the purple ones. I guess she remembered, because as soon as she saw them in the package, she said, "Fergus pajamas!" She wanted to put them on right away, so present opening was interrupted for a couple of minutes.

This is a plush Mo Willems pigeon that says "Let me drive the bus!" when you squeeze it. The pigeon was a big hit. Kate held onto it while she opened her other presents.

Aunt Karen sent this cute little dragon costume. It's a hooded cape with spikes and a tail. Kate does like it, but she's been wanting us to wear it. (Doug says, "If she wears it, then she can't see it." Makes sense.)

This apartment doesn't have the best lighting for taking pictures. Our last place was definitely better, the way the light came in the window.

We went over to Scott's house for Christmas dinner. Scott and his daughter Kira gave Kate a bunch of dinosaurs that Kira used to play with when she was little. Dinosaurs are very exciting. Scott also gave us a nativity set. Kate has been playing with them all together. Witness this scene of carnage:

Kate also got some fun things from the grandparents (for which we are still charging batteries), and from Rebecca. Thanks so much for helping our little girl have such a fun and memorable Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A little Christmas music

I wanted to share this sample of the Barra MacNeils singing "O Come Divine Messiah." It's not the whole song, but long enough to enjoy. The Barra MacNeils are a family from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and their Christmas album is one of our favorites. (The first Christmas album, that is--they just came out with another one that we didn't like quite as much.) When we were in Newfoundland, Doug went to see the Barra MacNeils at one of the pubs downtown, and sat right next to Great Big Sea's Allan Doyle. Oooh.

Last night we went over to the Tracys' for their annual dinner, and I took along my musical pipes. "Carol of the Bells" proved to be too difficult (possible, with practice, I'm sure), but "Silent Night" with harmony was lovely.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Kate sings!)

This is a card that my parents sent us last year. Kate found it a few months ago (back in October-ish, I think). She thought the pictures were neat, so I sang the song for her. (Not the whole song, just the last verse.) She asked for it again, and again, and again, and after the fifth or sixth time she started singing along with me. We've been singing it a lot this season. (Recently she was singing it rather loudly in the middle of I Love Bento.)

We finally managed to get a recording. Click here to hear Kate! (This isn't her best singing, but it's the best recording we got.)

And if you haven't seen it yet, this performance by the a capella group Straight No Chaser is not to be missed.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Future Focus

A hastily captured snapshot, low light, bad focus. I think I can see what Kate will look like years from now.

Friday, December 21, 2007

When Moms Blog

...It's a new experience. Well, I blog, and I'm a mom. But this is about my mom. She started a blog recently, and I've been reading things about my mother that I never knew before. Just reading her profile was an education--she has "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Star Trek IV" listed as her favorite movies, which I never would have guessed. Most recently she posted the story of how my dad proposed to her 42 years ago, which was very sweet. I've been thinking that we need to get some of these things written down. This may be the best way to get it done.

And today is my mom's birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! Here's to many more years.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Musical Pipes

These pipes were made for me by Helen Vernon. My first encounter with musical pipes happened while I was home from BYU--probably for Christmas, though I suppose it could have been summer vacation. We went over to visit the Vernons, who had moved into my family's ward (at church). She had this set of numbered pipes all cut to different lengths to produce different notes. We played songs on the pipes, striking them with spoons, following the numbers that Sister Vernon pointed to on a big pad of paper. She had a bunch of songs written out in this pad, and she said they liked to get the pipes out for group activities. I thought it was great fun.

Later, when I was graduating from BYU and had just gotten engaged to Doug, my family came out to Utah. My mom brought a package that she said was a graduation-slash-engagement present. It was a set of pipes that Sister Vernon had made for me. Nineteen pipes, in a big cloth roll (rather like the crayon rolls that my friend Amy has on her blog), with spoons tucked into the slots. (If she made many of these sets for people she must have been constantly scouring thrift stores for odd spoons.) There was also a set of instructions and songs. My mom said later that she wished she had taken a picture of my expression when I opened the box. I was thrilled. Betsey, who is allergic to cacophony, expressed the wish to not play with the pipes right then, and I said that we couldn't, anyway, since I would have to write the numbers for the songs out bigger so everyone could see them.

Eleven years passed by, and more, before we actually used the pipes. We didn't take them to Korea with us, or Newfoundland. For a time I wasn't sure where they were, but I found them again. We would get them out every once in a while and look at them, and bang on a few with the spoons. It takes a lot of people to play the pipes, and Doug and I, while not exactly anti-social, are not really event planners. Plus they're rather bulky, and heavy, and not the sort of thing that you can just casually toss into a suitcase when flying out to a family gathering in Ohio.

A couple of weeks ago we got a call from a friend at church who's on the activities committee, wanting to know if Doug could perform for the ward Christmas party. I mentioned that I had these pipes that were fun to use with large groups. She said that sounded fun, so I got on the program.

I got some poster board and wrote out two songs--"O Little Town of Bethlehem" (something with an easy rhythm, to start with) and then, in case it went really well and we were feeling ambitious, "Silent Night" with harmony. The day before the party we got out all the pipes and hung them on a broomstick across the backs of two chairs, and played around with them a bit.

Kate got into the act with her spoon, and once knocked the whole broomstick off onto the floor with a ringing clatter. (She was alarmed but unhurt.)

That afternoon we got the news that Sister Vernon had passed away. She'd been battling cancer for quite some time. I never got to know her very well, since they'd moved into the area after I left for college, but I always thought of her fondly. I know she will be missed.

The night of the party, when it was my turn, I asked for "volunteers with a good sense of rhythm." I got mostly kids. (I snagged one of the missionaries to hold my poster board.) They did a good job! As we gamely clanked our way through "O Little Town of Bethlehem," the rest of the people in the gym gradually fell silent, listening. The pipes make a good loud sound, but not loud enough, apparently, to be heard over a gym full of talking people. By the end of the song it was very still. So we did it again.

I didn't think we were up to tackling "Silent Night," so we didn't try that one. But maybe we'll get to do it with some friends before Christmas. Hopefully we'll get to use the pipes more often. I will think of Sister Vernon and try to make good use of her gift.

I found this site where you can buy a set of pipes, or buy instructions for making them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Twine Thing

I finally finished up the knotted twine extraction that I was working on here. It's now part of this month's customer appreciation kit "Dress in Layers" (a set of layered templates) at NDISB. It'll be available separately later. I was putting together a sample layout for the template and this is what I came up with. I like it. Kind of minimalist.

Edit: The twine package is now available here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Smile again?"

Normally, when I get out the camera to take pictures of Kate, her response is largely one of indifference--I don't think she minds (normally), but she's just not interested at all in making eye contact or smiling at me while I've got this camera in front of my face. But lately she's been surprising me. Taking pictures inside, I've been using the flash with the Finn-Bounce, and I think she likes watching the light.

The other day she was sitting on the couch watching The Land Before Time with Cera, her dinosaur, and they looked so cute that I got out the camera. After the first couple of pictures she started smiling and laughing for me. When I stopped for a moment she said, "Smile again?" What's this, she wants me to take her picture?

And here's Kate playing with her train!

Smile for the camera!

Smile again?


These are a bit soft, since the depth of field was really shallow (low light) and I didn't have the focus point on her face. I can change the focus point on the fly but I just didn't think of it. Alas.

This morning we went to Pump It Up in Tacoma, which was really rather lame compared to The Bouncy Place in Kent. They only have three inflatables, and we were practically the only people there (there was one other little boy with his mother), which was kind of surreal. We had a good time, though, and Kate went down the slide all by herself.

I've been working on Christmas cards. I think I didn't get enough.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Five-Hour Octopus

The last thing I crocheted was a little green baby dress that Kate wore when she was about six months old. It's been quite a while. But I suddenly got the urge to make something, so when Kate and I were at Artco the other day I picked up some yarn. I started on it last night and this was the result.

(No pattern, I just kind of made it up as I went.) I figured out how to do it all in one piece so I didn't have to stitch the legs on, which was great. The five hours is just a rough guess--I didn't really keep track.

It was going to be for Christmas, but Kate has already claimed it so I guess that's not going to happen. She kept trying to play with it while I was making it, and getting tangled up in the yarn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas hat

Realizing that I'd better not put off the Christmas card thing any longer, I picked up this hat yesterday, and today took pictures. When I told Kate, "Let's go outside and take pictures with the Christmas hat!" she said "Okay!" and seemed excited enough, but once we got outside she was less than enthusiastic. She did put the hat on, but attempts to get her to smile were at first met with scowls and hollers. "No!" (Get that camera out of my face!) But then she did give me a little smile. Awww.

Our little girl is getting so big! And as cute as ever. :)

Our mailman came by while I was taking pictures of Kate (nice guy from the Philippines). We talk cameras sometimes. He's a Nikon guy. So I asked him if he'd take some of me and Kate together, but I completely forgot that I hadn't brushed my hair yet. Oops. This one doesn't look too bad.

I whipped up a card this afternoon and ordered prints from mpix. With any luck I'll get them out before Christmas!

Brandon and the Wheel of Time

We just found out yesterday that Brandon Sanderson (my brother's friend from BYU, who I blogged about here), has been chosen to finish the last book of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. This series has been in the works for years, both tantalizing and annoying readers by stretching out through eleven very long books, but the author unfortunately died while working on the twelfth book. His widow-and-editor chose Brandon to complete it, after reading Brandon's work. This may seem like a surprising choice, especially since Brandon just published his first book a couple of years ago, but I think he'll do a good job. I think he's up to the work required, and it will certainly be a lot of work. You can read more about it at Brandon's blog. I've only read the first book of the series, years ago, but I'm excited for Brandon. Congratulations!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Adventures of Mr. Penguin (a tale in Chinese characters)

When I was first serving as a missionary in Korea, I lived in a high-rise apartment complex with an elevator. As I rode up and down in the elevator each day, staring at the information panel, I noticed one particular character. It seemed to draw my eye every time. I would stand there and look at it and think, "It's a penguin!" Eventually I learned that it was the character for "heart," but I still think it looks like a penguin.

As it turns out, the penguin is used in other characters as well. Like this one--the "heart" character and the "door" character. It's obvious: Mister Penguin drowns his sorrows at the local saloon. I started looking for the penguin in more characters, and discovered quite a few other things that Mister Penguin had been doing.

Mister Penguin discovers the necessity of wearing his seatbelt.

Mister Penguin looks out the window and wonders what his neighbors are up to.

Mister Penguin installs a large aerial on the roof of his house.

Mister Penguin shows up at his friend's house with a gift.

Mister Penguin blows out the candle on his birthday cake.

Mister Penguin is not tall enough to go on the ride.

Mister Penguin is unable to find a parking space.

Mister Penguin wards off vampires.

Mister Penguin is attacked by the Flying Spaghetti Monster