Crocheted Angry Birds hats

I finished these Angry Birds hats for the kids just in time (or, in barely enough time---Kenneth was laughing at me for bringing my "knitting," as he called it, to the basketball game with me) for Christmas.  I spent much time gazing at image searches, pulling out and re-working eyes and beaks, and trying to make each one look just right.  In accordance with their favorites, Abe is the bomb birdie, Seb is the red birdie, and Malachi is the tiny blue birdie.  Daisy got the yellow bird because she would have been sad if she didn't have one, and Junie got the tiny piggy because I thought, doted on by her brothers as she is, she was safest from actual bombardment.  Let us hope that optimistic assessment proves accurate.

I herewith mark this occasion, as probably the last time I will make something for them which fits within the magic trifecta of being something
a.) they like
b.) their friends also think is cool
and c.) I don't disapprove of.
We will enjoy it while we can!

(with beanbag bird from Kenneth and Sheila)
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Build a bridge out of her!

I overheard Sebastian saying to some little friend of his at a party the other day, "Do you know what a span is?  It's the section between two supports of a bridge."  I hope he really wowed her with this statement, but I don't imagine it's exactly the sort of thing that will win him lots of friends.  It is exactly the sort of thing he likes to talk about, however.  It is partially attributable to our reading lots of books about bridges lately, and I also (and perhaps this will prove to have been a grave misjudgement on my part?) showed him some videos of "Galloping Gertie," which I recalled fondly from various physics classes over the years.  This has inspired Seb to new heights, and he has been filling the house with architectural renderings, some of which I have collected here for your enjoyment.  Here is the "Monken Gate Bridge" under construction, above.

As you can see in this close-up view, the supports are formed in the shape of monkeys.
It supports a busy roadway

Here's a shot looking down the length of the bridge.  A marvel of engineering!

But . . . oh no!  What's this?  The engineer did not take the phenomenon of resonance into account!  Torsion waves are beginning to rock the bridge!  The middle span is beginning to fail!  A car (containing, sadly, a small dog---but no people, thankfully!) plummets toward the water below!

This picture (entitled by Sebastian, on the back, "TOTAL COLLAPSE") shows suspension cables twisted and dangling as the roadway disappears under the water, more cables raining down along with the actual rain, and only the two main supports remaining in this terrible storm.  If you think this is scary, you should see the dramatic re-enactments using actual blocks and toy cars.  Harrowing!

I don't know if all this means that he's going to be an engineer . . . or that he should never be an engineer.  Perhaps someone wiser can enlighten me.  I do know that I am always excited to see what he's going to draw next! :)
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Christmas Village

Just in time for your holiday festivities (next year), I'm pleased to inform you of a fun place to see Christmas lights: the Christmas Village in downtown Ogden.  I had read about it and we decided to give it a try, and we loved it.  I love Christmas lights of any sort, really, but this was extra good---much better than the drive-through scaffolding-lights at Thanksgiving Point, which gave me a sort of "isn't-this-cheating?" sort of feeling the year we saw them (a few years ago, admittedly, so maybe they're better now)---and certainly as good as the Temple Square lights, which, though always beautiful and enjoyable to see, have been kind of sparse lately (haven't they?).

At this Ogden Christmas Village, basically there are a bunch of tiny houses decorated with lights on the outside, and little scenes inside.  You walk around and peek into the houses to see what's inside---many of them show elves doing Christmas-y things like building toys, but there's lots of variety.  I think each house is sponsored by a business or city department, so sometimes they are themed around that---Fireman elves in a fire station, for example, or elves eating in an ice cream parlor.  Some are animatronic (is that the word I want?) and some are more like detailed dioramas.  Sam said it was just like a parade, but better because you could go at your own pace and get close-up views of all the "floats."  We loved the house that held hundreds of tiny nutcrackers, and the one with dozens of stuffed bears sitting around a fireplace, and the one with elves throwing snowballs at each other.  The kids thought it was just magical.  They loved climbing up on the little steps and peering through the windows to see what they could see.  And it was such a fun, Christmas-y atmosphere---hot chocolate for sale, and a few firepits for warmth, and a little snow falling.  We want to go again next year!  (Here is where I read about it, by the way.)
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Random Thursday thoughts

Golden Gate Bridge
∙ Have I talked about how Daisy is exactly like her brothers?  People keep telling me how different raising girls is from raising boys, but so far it's almost laughably similar.  All day long, Daisy comes running to me saying, "Will you come see my thing?" which is, of course, what her brothers say when they've built something they want to show off.  I asked her what she'd built in the picture above, and she told me "the Golden Gate Bridge".  As you can see there's one car driving on it. :)  She was quite pleased with herself.

∙ Another "thing" someone built (Sebby, I think).  Everything is so meticulously placed, and each part means something---I think this was a city of some kind? but I can't remember)---and the boys have to tell me what each part is and how it works, and I just wish they didn't get out every single tiny thing available to them, but they do.  Of course they do.  [What is that monkey in the bucket? I wish I knew.]

Junie and Balunie
∙ We ate at Brick Oven in Provo awhile ago and the Balloon Man made balloons for all the kids.  Malachi asked for "a pink baby Juniper," and the man obliged (he even drew clouds on her little balloony suit to match the real Junie).  It was very lifelike, as you can see, and made me wonder if there is a market for balloon family portraits? "Capture childhood's fleeting moments in Latex?"

∙ I feel like the "child-playing-with-nativity-set" image is a popular sentimental favorite this time of year---usually some soft-focus vignette showing how the child has carefully positioned all the figures around Baby Jesus, or some such heartwarming scene.  What these depictions leave out is the 1,000 other arrangements in which the child also places the nativity set.  The other day ours had a sheep on top of the stable, the angel and the donkey standing companionably inside, and Baby Jesus consigned to distant reaches under the couch.  I tried without success to imagine some heartwarming reason for that arrangement.  Then, later, there was this:

It comes of having too many people who have too many of their own ideas about things.  I try to discourage any such independent ideas but nobody ever listens to me. 
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The Christmas Chronicles

One of the best things about having been a family for all these years now (ten and a half) is that we are starting to have lots of our very own traditions.  I love it.  I love looking forward to things "we always do," and hearing the kids talk about them excitedly to each other.

Something new for this year is that we've been listening to The Christmas Chronicles on KBYU, and I can already tell it's going to be something we want to do every year.  I think we'll buy the audiobook, but for now the episodes are online so we can fit them in between all the other things we have going on.

It's a story by local author Tim Slover (he came and spoke to one of my English classes one time at BYU---we studied a story of his I like a lot, called "Jim of Provo," based on the story of Job in the Bible.  He also wrote the play "Joyful Noise" about Handel's writing of Messiah; perhaps you've seen it?) about the history and origins of Santa Claus.  It is simply delightful.  Funny, interesting, moving, witty---we are loving it.  Abraham is so involved in the story, he can hardly stand the waits between episodes, but Sebby loves it too and even Malachi seems quite captivated.  I highly recommend it!  There are 8 segments of about a half-hour each, so it takes some time to listen to, but I guarantee you'll be wanting to stay up late to hear "just one more" once you get started (especially if you have hot chocolate to drink while you listen!).

And just for a bonus, here are some totally gratuitous and unjustified shots of various elves and Christmas dresses.
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