Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Craftiness

I'd like to share some of the things I enjoyed creating for Christmas this year:

Sweaters for my nieces, from 'Tis the Season to Crochet

A hanten for my mother, from Simplicity 5839

Market totes for my sisters, from this tutorial

A centerpiece for the ward Christmas party

After the party, D2 wore my Santa hat and gave invisible candy canes to everyone in the family.  He was so cute, and one hat doesn't go very far among six people, and I clearly didn't have enough projects in hand, so I crocheted one for him, using Pattern 90144AD from Lion Brand.  Actually, it fits the rest of us better than it fits D2, so it has been pretty useful.

Photo snowball ornaments for my Primary class

After I finished the ornaments, Rollo claimed my attention.  He'd sewn a stocking at school, and was ready for a more challenging project.  He designed a train engine applique, cut the pieces from felt, and stitched them together by hand. 

Then I used the machine to stitch the engine to a shirt he'd pulled out of his drawer.  Another project complete without another trip to the fabric store!

Of course, then we had to make another for D2, with his favorite vehicle in his favorite color.  (And his favorite candy cane dripped all over it.  Hooray for Stain Stick!)

On Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus needed a little help whipping up a case for the camera Santa was bringing the boys.
Dandelionslayer wondered why I was so tired that night. 
But I enjoyed every project!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Picture our Christmas

The Sunday Before Christmas
Some have been lamenting the Caterpillar's lack of silly grin in recent portraits.  Don't worry, he still knows how.

The Ceremonial Coming Downstairs and Dumping out of Stockings
Notice that the Caterpillar is already dressed for the day.  He just had to take a shower before getting started.  His brothers were remarkably patient.

Abundant Joy and Sharing
Here we have Rollo wearing D2's new Buzz Pack, and D2 wearing his own new cowboy hat and wielding the Caterpillar's new pistol.  Last Monday, Rollo suddenly decided to give gifts to the family, and his brothers decided it was a good idea.  We want to encourage (but not force) generosity, so off we all went to Wal-Mart for some clandestine shopping.  The items they picked for each other were, well, not necessarily what I would have chosen.  But they all turned out to be just right.  The Wonder Brothers know each other well. 

Fastest Laser Gun in the West
This Christmas was a pretty relaxing day, with plenty of music, playing, and reading, sometimes simultaneously.  I was happy to be with my happy family.  I am so grateful that our Savior came into the world to show us how to be happy, and to provide a way for us to be a family forever.
The joy of Christmas can stay with us always, for Jesus Christ loves us in all seasons.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trick Question

"What do you do for yourself?"

The bishop asked me this at tithing settlement.  It's a question I usually don't appreciate, but in the guilt-enhancing environment of the bishop's office, I really didn't know what to say. 

I suppose he meant something like, "What makes you happy?" or "How are you maintaining your physical, spiritual, mental, and social health so that you can continue to perform well your duties as wife, mother, and church member?"  But that is not what he said, and in the moment, I took it literally.

I'm a mother of active children.  I cook, clean, see that they get to the bus and lessons and games and activities... When would I have time to do anything else?  The bishop knows I'm The Crazy Person Who Jogs Up the Hill Pushing a Big Blue Stroller, but with weather and holiday preparations, I haven't been doing much of that lately.  I said, lamely, "I've gone to Book Club a couple of times."  And I've been reading more than that, but not this week. 

What is the right answer?  Am I supposed to do things for myself, or not?  I thought we were supposed to be emulating the selfless example of the Savior.  What did He ever do for Himself?  As I recall, the Biblical record mentions that He took a nap once.  Okay, I do that sometimes.  And He would go off by Himself to pray.  I should do that more often.  But, knowing Him, He was probably praying for others most of the time.  So, should I say, "No, I prefer to lose myself in service?"  No, because it isn't true. 

Should I admit that, when I feel stressed, I hide in my bathroom and eat chocolate, and brush my teeth immediately so no one (including the dentist) will know?  Should I tell him how much time I've been spending reading the blogs of friends and strangers, or searching for quilt ideas and crochet patterns that I'll probably never use?  Should I reveal my recent goal to raise my personal dress standards by wearing jeans more often than sweat pants?

Some of the activities that one might categorize as "for self" actually benefit others.  I save some cleaning tasks for the boys.  They think I teach them to clean out of selfishness, not realizing that it is much more difficult to get them to work than to do it myself, nor that cleaning is a life skill that they will value someday.  When I exercise, I feel better, which helps me keep my temper, which improves family living.  I enjoy music, but rarely play anything on the piano but the pieces I need to practice for the choir.  My hobbies are primarily creative in nature.  I enjoy making things for myself, but also for others.
Then again, how much of what I do for others is really for myself?  I patch the boys' jeans because I will be embarassed if they go out in holey clothes.  I cook interesting foods so my family can have a varied, healthy diet, but also because I get bored of eating the same things all the time.  When I decided that D2 should have his own Santa hat, I could have picked one up immediately from the Dollar Store.  But I spent far more time and money crocheting one for him, so I could enjoy the project.  I obviously value the creative process more than practicality as I slowly craft a quilt for Rollo.  Did I crochet sweaters for my nieces because I wanted to keep them warm, or because I thought it would be fun to use that cute pattern? 

And now I've spent all this time typing out my insecurities instead of folding the clothes, putting away dishes, or even eating my own lunch.  Obviously I need some adjustment in my priorities.

Now, here's a tricky question for you:  Who just got Super Glue stuck on his tongue?  And WHY???

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sixth-grade Sincerity

The Caterpillar's sixth grade class is a tightly knit group.  Most of them have been together for a few years now, but they warmly welcome newcomers, as the Caterpillar was last year.  I'm sure they have their differences, but mostly they seem to get along pretty well.

During the gift exchange at the Christmas party yesterday, the teacher reminded them all to be gracious about whatever they received, and the students heeded her advice.  Afterward, though, while the others were chatting, eating snacks, and showing each other calculator tricks, one boy sat alone, facing away, trying hard to conceal his disappointment about the gift he had received.  The teacher briefly commented on his isolation, but did not pry.  Right away, two of the girls appeared at his side, quietly assessing the situation, ready to trade or share their own gifts.  After some satisfactory solution had been reached, they gave him a "group air hug," imparting cheer without discomfort.  Then another boy quietly engaged him in playing a game he had just received.  They sat on the floor, where the distressed one could regain his composure without observation.  I was impressed, and grateful that my Caterpillar could be a member of this caring class.

Note:  While both sensitive and generous, the Caterpillar played no part in this touching scene.  He was busy eating through two slices of pizza, two chocolate brownies, one handful of potato chips, one or two Santa cupcakes, five doughnut holes, assorted fruits...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Notice anything different?

June 17, 2009

December 18, 2009

On the Caterpillar's eleventh birthday, he was still a bit shorter than his august mother.  In the six months since, he has grown three and a half inches, enough to put him over the top and off the chart.  "I have taller friends," he offered, which is true.  But most of them are girls.

And he is still hungry...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday Evening

~T~:  So, what was your lesson about today?
Scoot:  Testimonies.
~T~:  Do you have a testimony?
Scoot:  Just a little one. . . . But it works.

Monday, December 7, 2009


D2:  Mom, were you a polar bear when you were an animal?
~T~:  Umm, no, I don't think I've been an animal.  Were you an animal?
D2:  NO!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dictionary Moment: Horripilant

I love dictionaries.  I can never look up just one word, unless I really concentrate.  One word leads to another.  I often get lost in vocabulary before I find the answer to my first question.  Dandelionslayer shares this love of language with me.  Early in our marriage we purchased a copy of the 1979 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, with the red cover, from Deseret Industries for $.75.  Considering use per cost, this is undoubtably the best bargain we've bought.  We still use the red dictionary, when we can find it.  It is not so red anymore, and hides among the other books.  But more recently, Dandelionslayer invested in the 2002 Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which contains even more treasures.  The two-volume format dampens my wanderings, but does not discourage me completely.

I found today's treasure last week, while checking my spelling of "hors d'oeuvres" (I was almost right).  On the same page, I found the adjective "horripilant," which describes things which cause "horripilation," which means . . . goose bumps. 

Trying to think of an example sentence, I've realized that horripilation is a sensation which I do not often experience.  I live a pretty calm life.  But now I am almost looking forward to the next time, so I can say, "Ooo, that is so horripilant!"

What gives you horripilation?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Visitors from Afar

After Scoot's soiree, we enjoyed some more tranquil guests, Grandma and Grandpa G.
D2 and I took them to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, where there was a perfect child-sized exhibit of child-designed art glass.

Grandma G used a real telephone switchboard to call D2, at the Kitsap Historical Museum in Bremerton.

And Grandpa G taught the Caterpillar about online records indexing.
We enjoyed their visit!

Scoot's Birthday Week

Due to Dandelionslayer's unusual schedule at work, we got to celebrate Scoot's 9th birthday for over a week! 
B-1:  Special dinner of Japanese chicken curry sauce with rice.

Birthday: Opened gifts from family,

including a small white Totoro, to go with the blue one I crocheted for D2.  You can find the patterns here.
B+4: Free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.  Scoot chose Oreos mixed into mint ice cream.  And it was pretty small, so the Caterpillar and Rollo chose strawberry ice cream with cherries, and Dandelionslayer and I shared a featured brownie-peanut butter creation that was just perfect.

B+8:  The birthday party, with Black Forest Cherry Cake, and

a total of 9 boys to play Capture the Flag, Murder in the Dark, and, everyone's favorite, Pile on Dad.
And they stayed all night.  I think they went to sleep eventually, but by the time I got up the next day, they were already playing a board game.  After the five guests had left, the usual four boys' hijinks seemed very calm and quiet.
And Scoot was happy.  After being celebrated for 9 days, who wouldn't be?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

Last Monday evening, November 2nd, I took a short drive.  On the way, the large windows of one store clearly showcased the holiday displays, already in place, and I could see the employees stringing up Christmas lights.  A few years ago, I would have scoffed.  But now, as Ward Choir Pianist, I know that this is already the season to practice Christmas songs.  This will be my 4th Christmas as choir pianist, supporting the 5th choir director of my tenure.  One director missed Christmas, but otherwise, we've had one a year.  Is it a jinxed calling?  Well, three of the choir directors moved out of apartments and into their own homes outside the ward.  The other was transferred to a climate she prefers.  I don't know the new director well enough to know whether there is anywhere else she'd rather be, but I'm sure she'll receive her reward.  She's had me start on three pieces: "Shine for Me Again: Star of Bethlehem," "Little Baby Jesus, All the World Will Love You," and a cool setting of "The First Noel" (which we practiced last year, but didn't perform).  So I've been plunking away at them, hoping to be fairly steady when the choir begins practicing.  And when I heard holiday strains wafting through the fabric store on Friday, it didn't faze me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Superstars

Drumroll, please:

the Caterpillar as the Mad Scientist,
Scoot as the Mysterious Man in Black,
D2 as the Dragon,
and Rollo as the Incredible Dash.
(Some typecasting was involved, but they took it upon themselves.)

Dash heroically keeps the Dragon's tail from draggin'.
(No, it isn't snowing.  The typical Pacific Northwest mist caught the camera's eye.)

Dash employs his prodigious strength to display the pumpkins he grew from seeds. 
He planted those seeds in a paper cup in kindergarten last spring,
the most successful pumpkin seeds this family has ever sown.

So, considering next year, what should a gardening superhero's outfit look like?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ask, and ye shall find out...

~T~:  Why did you spill water on the floor of Scoot's closet?
D2:  So the Star Wars guys could go into the swamp.

And so they did, I recalled as we rushed off for Rollo's game.  There was a starfighter and a stealth bomber in the puddle on the carpet, and some of C3PO's parts were scattered around.  D2 is very thorough for one so young.  I thought Scoot might be upset, but he is up there now with more little figures, making the most of the opportunity.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Attempt at Autumnal Appreciation

Is there anything left to be said about Fall?
Poets have probably written it all.
But still the leaves blaze in the Sun's lowered rays.
The season returns every year for more praise.

Does anything lovely rhyme with "Autumn?"
The calendar pages are nearing the bottom.
And whether you've raked them or simply forgot 'em,
The leaves tumble down every Fall.

So, smile at a pumpkin and slide on a sweater.
Step on the dry leaves before they get wetter.
Whether the maples are yellow or redder,
Savor the season of Fall!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Art of Lunch

D2 fixed his own lunch a couple of weeks ago, and has had the same attractive arrangement nearly every day since.  (Apparently the cheese and tomato were purely decorative, and aren't regulars on the menu.)  He eats each ingredient separately, and when he reaches the tortilla, he rolls it up and sings into it like a microphone.  If food be the music of love, eat on!

Books for LaBeq

When my sister was visiting this summer, we found ourselves frequently referring to books she hadn't read.  LaBeq is well versed in mysteries and classics, but is not so conversant with juvenile fantasy.  She couldn't memorize all the titles we threw out, and asked for a list.  So here are some of our favorites, to be enjoyed in her (or your) copious free time.  I've marked titles that begin a series with an * -- if you want to read more, you can find the sequences on Wikipedia. 

Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl*
Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief*
Angie Sage, Magyk*
Daniel Pinkwater, The Neddiad and The Yggyssey
Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle*, Unexpected Magic
Patricia Wrede, Dealing With Dragons*, Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot*
Gerald Morris, The Squire's Tale*
Katherine Langrish, Troll Fell*
Joseph Helgerson, Horns and Wrinkles
Sarah Prineas, The Magic Thief*

These are not so juvenile, but I like them:

Brandon Sanderson, Elantris
Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency*
Charles Dickinson, A Shortcut in Time
Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Gaile Parkin, Baking Cakes in Kigali
Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair* (you might want to brush up your Bronte)

Happy reading!