I love Christmas lights. December days around here tend to be wet and dreary, and night falls all too soon. But then the lights shine out, bringing hope and cheer.
The little electric lights are just a reminder, a dim imitation of the Light of the World, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Just like them, we can imitate Him to bring more light into the dreary world around us.
Join me in trying to lift some burdens this month. Here you can find ideas to get you started. Then observe, serve, and share in the joy of Christmas!
Scoot had a pretty specific vision for his costume this year. He wanted to be a Dedicated Asha'man, a magical warrior from Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series. With some extra time on his hands this term, he has been speeding through the books (he's currently on #10 of 14), and knows them well. I haven't read any of them. Scoot showed me the type of coat he wanted here. Naturally, I thought the price was a bit steep for a Halloween costume, so I offered to make him one. Maybe I shouldn't have. The materials cost nearly that much (thank goodness for coupons), and I didn't have a commercial pattern to work with. But I plunged in. I drew out one of those tiny Lutterloh patterns for a women's coat with a tall collar and a zipper, and straightened it out to make it more manly. I had the sense to cut out the flannel lining pieces first and baste them together for fitting. Good thing--I had to put more curves back in for my skinny boy. He said he wanted it to be warm and that he'd wear it on other occasions. So I quilted some batting onto the flannel, added pockets, and cut the outer pieces from a wool blend. And it came together pretty well. It is definitely warm, and poofier than intended--I should have used a more compact batting. I also should have done the button flap differently, but I made it work.
The buttons themselves I liberated from some old marching band uniforms in my charge. We bought the officially licensed pins. The coat was too warm for Scoot to wear to the Halloween dance, and he was doing his duty at the football game during the trunk-or-treat. But he wore it for the piano recital (where one of the adult students recognized his outfit right away) and for trick-or-treating, and he looked quite dashing.
Rollo's inspiration was also literary. This is his look for Obliteration, a supervillain from Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners series. I haven't read this, either, but apparently the various empowered people don't go in for capes and spandex. So Rollo wore Dandelionslayer's trench coat, the one that the Caterpillar wore every day for a couple of years. I'd already thought it when someone else suggested, "So he dressed up like his brother?" When I mentioned it to both boys, they laughed, so I guess they didn't mind that. Rollo did try to increase his villainous image by carrying a machete for trick-or-treating. It would just have gotten in the way at the piano recital.
D2 felt more cinematic, and decided to be a Sith. He's wanted his own cloak for a while now. But he was quite willing to wear Rollo's once he realized it fit. I'm glad--Scoot's coat wore me out. He added some detail with the orange scarves. I'm not sure what he had in mind, but they remind me of his safety patrol outfit. He loves to play with those scarves.
D2 also persuaded me to buy him a skeleton, once it was on clearance. His enthusiasm at the store was contagious, and made a few people smile. His vision was to equip it with a black cloak and scythe. Once he brought it home, though, he found the plaid robe and fuzzy pink slipper more accessible and just as acceptable. He's had a lot of fun posing the skeleton, including setting it up in front of the webcam for our weekly chat with the Caterpillar.
The Caterpillar himself dressed up as a cyborg for a couple of Halloween parties out there at college. Look at that robot hand. The Six Million Dollar Man on a thrift store budget. Awesome.
My beloved Caterpillar has gone to test his wings at college! Before he left, he needed some new equipment. We did plenty of shopping, but he also let me sew him a couple of things.
He needed a new case for his bass guitar. The old one was cheap, and wore out pretty quickly. But it was a good model for planning a new one.
The Caterpillar picked out the black canvas and poinsettia lining. He also traced around the old case to make a pattern, and even cut out some of the pieces.
I set the Duetta to embroider his favorite raven in shades of red.
He wanted this case to include adjustable backpack straps. I bought some big strap adjusters from Buckleguy, and they worked great, once I checked the configuration on an existing backpack. Honestly, that was about the only trouble I had with this project. I thought it through so thoroughly that there really weren't any surprises, and I'm quite pleased with the result. The Caterpillar likes it, too.
Thanks to Grandpa O, he also has a new laptop that needed a case. I used the same black canvas and webbing, but he chose a lining with a pretty blue pattern.
He also chose blue and green for the raven design this time. I thought a messenger bag with magnetic snaps would be simpler than a guitar bag with a very long zipper. It turned out to be more difficult than I expected, mostly due to the 1" thick protective foam layer. A couple of times during the process, I doubted that I could finish the bag satisfactorily. But the Caterpillar told me that he believed in me. Adding the snaps and metal sliders (also from Buckleguy) bolstered my confidence (it just looked more official with hardware), and I figured out how to finish it up.
Notice anything different? The Caterpillar is attending BYU-Idaho, which has a pretty specific dress and grooming code. While the beard was impressive, I'm happy to see the Caterpillar's face more clearly again.
The two of us took a fun road trip to campus. We were surprised to see this Spanish-style mission church near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and stopped to take a look.
It was built in the mid-1800s by very talented Jesuits and the natives who invited them to their lands.
They used what was on hand, with wattle-and-daub walls that still stand, chandeliers made of tin cans, and huckleberry juice-stained ceilings.
The church is part of a state park now, so people like us can stop by and be inspired by the faith and resourcefulness of the old pioneers.
After staying a night with my aunt and uncle in Idaho Falls, we moved the Caterpillar into his apartment in Rexburg. Nearly everything we brought fit nicely under his bed.
Then we explored the lovely campus, and he began his orientation activities. After he bought a few groceries, I gave him a hug, and set off into the sunset . . .
which was gorgeous. Here it is, setting off the LDS temple that stands just down the street from the Caterpillar's place.
Fare thee well, Caterpillar! Find beauty and inspiration, learn lots of interesting things, and have a great time!
D2 turned 10 this month, bringing the whole family into the double digits.
He'd been planning the party for months, a festival of ninja training with a couple dozen activities to be completed in various locations. We helped him narrow it down to things that would work at home. He made up the invitations and emailed them out, and even called a couple of people to make sure they had received the invitations.
And then . . . only one friend came. The boys helped him make a foam-noodle sword, which seems to have become standard party practice here, and they did some dueling. And they played inside and outside, together and separately, and I think they had a good time.
The cake turned out pretty well, if I may say so myself, thanks to parchment paper, white chocolate chips, a tube of ready-made black icing (not that gel stuff, but real frosting in a tube that fits with decorating tips), and my calligraphy training. I added lime flavors to the white cake mix, so the cake tasted good, too, and with the friend's mother, we ate the whole thing in one sitting.
There was no cake left for D2's real birthday, but I think a big doughnut for breakfast and ice cream at teatime made it a festive day, anyway.
I crocheted this for him, at his request. It represents Nadakhan, an antagonistic djinn character in the Lego Ninjago show, which D2 sneakily watches via YouTube.
I don't think my creation looks much like the character on the show, but it does look just like the picture D2 drew for me to work from. And he likes it, so it's a success.
He's also obsessed with cats, so I thought I'd give him one that wouldn't make me sneeze. (Come on, genetic engineers, can't you breed some cats with acrylic fur?)
I used Little Bear Crochet's pattern for a stretching cat. The face reminds me more of a bear, actually, but I'm not sure what I could do about it. And D2 knows it's a cat, and likes it, too.
He's in fifth grade this year, at the top of the heap now that the sixth graders have gone off to middle school. It's kind of hard to believe, since he's still my littlest guy. But he's growing up nicely.