Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-or-Treat Dragons

Doug wore his doublet and hose to class in the morning. Doesn't he look dashing?

Doug made everything here except the swords and stockings (and shoes). He says I should point out that he did not wear the swords to school.



What with one thing and another (I've been kind of preoccupied painting) I hadn't picked up a pumpkin yet, and Kate really wanted one, so I went out after school to see what I could find.   What I found was that when you leave your pumpkin-shopping for the last minute, all the reasonably-sized pumpkins are taken, and you're left with a twenty-eight pounder.  Which I'm pretty sure weighs more than Andy. 

Kate drew the face.  I ended up making the features a little bigger, to fit the size of the pumpkin, but it was  her design.  She wanted a vampire pumpkin.

The kids wore their dragon costumes (again).  That's our go-to costume around here.  Kate came up with something else about a week ago where she was walking around with a box on her head, saying, "Greetings!  I am X398 from Ju-pi-ter.  If you co-operate with my words you can be one of my minions."  After I burst out laughing and told her I didn't want to be one of her minions, I convinced her that walking around in the dark with a box on her head probably wasn't a good idea.

Admiring the pumpkin.

We took the kids trick-or-treating over by Kate's school. Doug grabbed a Santa hat on the way out and said he was a Seasonally-Challenged Individual.

Andy thought we were going visiting and kept trying to run into people's houses (Doug had to hang onto him at every door).  Everyone was really friendly.  At one house I got into a conversation with the lady when I told her I liked her door--she started telling me all about how she'd lived in that house for 39 years and how much they liked the neighborhood.  I asked her if Kate could get a drink, since she'd been complaining about being thirsty, and she gave us a bottle of water.  (Then she asked Kate, "What year are you in school?" and Kate said, "Two thousand eleven.")

Almost all the houses had some kind of decoration.  It looked like the whole neighborhood really got into it.

We had a good time and got the kids home by 7:30!   Now we make the candy last until Christmas.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boating and Bribery

When Doug volunteered as our ward coordinator for Parks Appreciation Day, he got a "Metro Parks Volunteer Familiarization Pass," which includes one-time passes to various Tacoma Metro Parks sites for free or at a discount. One of these was half-off a boat rental at the Marina ($30 instead of $60). We hadn't used that one yet, and Saturday was nice and sunny, so we decided to go do it.

The problem was that Kate, for some reason, decided that she did NOT want to go for a boat ride. When I told her what we were going to do (trying to get her ready to go) she ran into her room and hid in her bed, hollering, "NOOOOOO! I don't want to go! I'm not going to do that! Not ever!" All the regular cajoling ("Come on! It'll be fun! You'll have a good time!") did no good. She couldn't give us anything like a coherent reason, either--she'd just got it in her head that she didn't want to go, and she wasn't changing her mind. And lines like "Sometimes it's good for you to do things you don't want to do" really don't work on a six-year-old. (I know, shocking, right?) Doug said, "She's just going to keep this up--are you sure you want to do this?" I considered, and decided, yes, I do want to do this. She's going to come along and she's going to have a good time, and then we'll be able to use it as an example the next time she thinks she doesn't want to do something.

Well, in the end we bribed her with McDonald's (ice cream and playland). Perhaps this was not the most effective lesson, but she did come, and she did have a good time. She was pretending the boat was a baby sea dragon named Yoshi.

It was about 59 degrees, and windy on the water, so we had the kids bundled up. Andy really didn't like having the life jacket around his neck and just sat stiffly in my arms until he fell asleep. (I think he had a good time but it was hard to tell.) It was kind of funny because I had just commented to Doug that it was nice not to have to schedule things around Andy's nap, and then he fell asleep anyway. (Just this week we decided to discontinue his daily nap, after he stayed up until midnight two days in a row. Bedtime is going much better now.)

We went out by the Vashon Island ferry landing, and saw lots of cormorants, and another bird that looked an awful lot like some kind of puffin. I'm not sure what those were. (Anybody know?)

I decided not to take my camera (it would have been rather awkward, anyway, with the way I ended up holding Andy) but we did get the video. It was a nice little ride. I'm glad we got to go out and enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Autumn Leaves and Pumpkin Hats (2011 edition)

(Crochet pumpkin hat directions here)

We've had a very rainy fall.  Lots of chilly overcast and drizzle.  (It's hard to appreciate that crisp autumn weather without the "crisp" part.)  When we finally got a nice sunny day, I figured we'd better seize the moment and get some pictures of the kids in their pumpkin hats.  Andy was not too keen on the hat at first and kept pulling his off.

"Help!" says Andy.

Kate had to bring along a dinosaur.


Andy finally decided he was okay with keeping his hat on.  (Yay!)

Aren't my little pumpkins cute?

Our apartment complex, magically transformed into a golden wonderland!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

discovery painting

I've been enjoying listening to the Writing Excuses podcast (with Brandon Sanderson and company). One of the things that they talk about is the difference between outline writers and "discovery writers." I've come to realize that part of the reason this train table backdrop is taking so long is that it's basically an exercise in discovery painting.

I started out with a general idea of the lay of the land, but that was about it. I'm not always so good at coming up with things out of my head. If I have a picture I can make this look like that, but for most of this I've been flying pretty blind.  (I did have a photo of Mt. Rainier which I put to good use, as well as some crepuscular rays for reference.)  So mostly I just mess around with it and see how it turns out. It's been fun but it's quite different from the way I usually work.  I put in some hills in the background, then decide they need to be lighter and bluer. I spend a couple of hours dropping in hundreds of little trees on a hillside, and then realize that it's too detailed for how far away it's supposed to be. I've been putting in some rocky bits to match the hills on the train table, but I've discovered that "rocky" is not really my strong suit. Keeping the color and perspective consistent across eighteen feet has proved a little tricky, as well.

This little section has been keeping me busy for the past few days.

It doesn't look much like I'd imagined it, but it works. It's still not quite done. (The tree is going to have a swing in it, too.)

I wasn't entirely happy with the landscape in Scott's mural, and I was hoping I could make this one work better. I think for the most part it's come together nicely. I do have some good ideas about what I would do differently next time--more detailed sketches to start with, and possibly a small scale painting, to try things out. (More pre-mixed-up colors in larger amounts would be helpful, too.) I've started keeping a mural reference board on pinterest, with some ideas that I hope I might be able to use later. I especially like the misty lighting effects.

This has been a long project! I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like all put together on the train table. That should be very cool.

Speaking of Writing Excuses, a recent episode featured my brother Peter (Brandon's assistant), and Patrick Rothfuss's assistant Valerie, talking about what their jobs are like.  I'm probably biased but I thought it was great fun.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taken for Granite

I was doing some knife work and couldn't find the piece of glass that I usually cut on. I was trying to figure out what else I could use, (upside-down pie dish?) and then I remembered Doug's slab of granite. He uses it for his leatherwork, to pound on. I remember when he brought it home--he rang the doorbell, because he had his arms full, so I opened the door and he was standing there with this chunk of granite in his arms. He looked at me and said, "It was free!" Heh. (He got a scrap from a countertop place.)

The surface has tiny knicks in it, so the cutting wasn't quite as smooth, but it worked fine for what I was doing. I still want to find my glass.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dragons, Monsters, and a Cookie Spider

Kate brought this home from school. She named it Licorice, and then ate it for her after-homework snack. (I was relieved that she did decide to eat it, rather than keeping it as a friend.  I could see her wanting to do that.)

We were over at the Tracys' recently to practice a song for a special musical number at church. Kate treats the Tracys' house as something like a toy library. This time she borrowed a little Fisher Price dragon that she calls Golden. When we got home, she told me she wanted to write some things about Golden (like she did with her starfish.) She had me draw a picture of Golden which she colored in, and then she wrote this:

by Kate and Mom
note (my mom that is)

We discovered that Golden eats presls
[that's pretzels] and cheddar cheese cheese cheese.
Golden is a treasure finder.

(She did ask me how to spell a few words.)

And here's a little "Things I Like" book that Kate made at school.

Written and Illustrated by: Kate AKA Randall (that's Randall from Monsters Inc.)

I like dragins
I like bugs

I like my cornr (this is something about a spot in her classroom. Kate tells me that the bit above that says "Note, how long is this book")
I like giyint squids (I love her spelling. The squid is cute too.)

I like Spore (computer game)
I like zoos

I like me to

I love seeing what she comes up with.