Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Catching Up, or "The Christmas Blog Post"

I think it's fair to say it's been a busy six months since Eliot started his new job with Really Strategies. The job has been a lot of fun but it's also meant longer hours and more travel then he had been used to for the last few years. This has meant a choice between time spent crafting blog posts and time spent with Dada or, perhaps, sleeping. However, he also realizes he's been working at an unsustainable pace and needs to dial it back in the new year.

Nevertheless, we have been doing things worth reporting.

Dada continues to delight and amaze as she cruises toward four going on sixteen. She's over 40 inches tall and shows no sign of stopping. She can count to over 20 and is starting to demonstrate the ability to do simple addition and subtraction. Her verbal ability continues to amaze and we are constantly reminded that we have to watch carefully what we say because she remembers everything.

After our trip to Seattle to see Dada's cousins Sophia, Julia, and Booker, we didn't do much travel except to Houston to visit Julie's mother. We spent as much time as we could at the pool, which we did right through September, when the temperature finally fell into the 80's and it was too chilly to go swim (and the pool closed).

We got to go to the Maker Faire, a two-day celebration of all forms of DIY, from robots and electronics to knitting and craft and all things in between. This event is put on by Make magazine, a fabulous publication. Austin is only the second city, after San Jose, to host a Maker Faire, so we were pretty excited. Julie signed up to volunteer and Dada and I just paid our way in.

It was very cool and Dada and her daddy had a great time. The highlights for Dada were the bicycle-based, human-powered, amusement rides and the rockets. Estes, the model rocket people, had an area where you got a free rocket kit that you could put together right there and then they gave you an engine and sent you out to the launch area. Dad put the rocket together and Dada decorated it (stickers!) and then we launched it. We snagged a second kit to take home and bought a full rocket and launcher set from the Make store so we could do more rockets at home, which we did, so the delight of all. Julie's duties were complete by early afternoon and she got to enjoy some of the Faire too. The trip was capped by a liver performance of the Diet Coke and Mentos guys, which was worth the price of admission all by itself.

Eliot had tried to do model rockets as a lad back in Idaho but had never been able to get his to launch. So finally, nearly 40 years later, he finally got some rockets to go. It's actually a lot more fun than we would have thought, what with the whooshing and the chasing and the fiddly putting together and so forth. And it gets you out in the out of doors on a nice day. We had a couple of weekends where the wind was low and the weather nice and were able to go to the park and shoot off a few rockets.

Dada also got to meet Mo Willems, author of some of Dada's favorite books, such as Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Nuffle Bunny. He gave a reading and had a book signing at the Texas Book Festival. Dada seemed to be less impressed than her parents. We even got a bonus session where Mo taught the audience how to draw pigeons.

Dada and Eliot still take bike rides around Town Lake and south Austin when the weather and allergen levels permit. With all the rain we've had, mold and then ragweed has been just awful, which has made it hard to be too active.

Julie learned to crochet and produced some very cool crocheted skulls for Halloween, which we augmented with red LED eyes. Ooo spooky.

Our neighbors the Whites: Greg, Jen, Sunny, Kesley, and Austin, returned from having been in Santa Fe for several months. Dada really enjoys having Sunny and Kesley around to play with and Eliot certainly enjoys having someone to play Guitar Hero with so it was a little quiet around here for a while, but things are more or less back to normal.

Julie has developed her pie crust and biscuit skills to a high degree, producing incredibly flaky crusts and biscuits, completely displacing Eliot as the Biscuit King. It has been a source of some friction.

The chickens continue to produce eggs at a rate faster than we can consume or give away. We realized that one side effect of Eliot working from home is that there's no longer a convenient target for egg gifting like there was when he went to an office with other people in it.

Forrest, the basset hound continues to do OK--he was diagnosed with cancer nearly a year ago but he seems to have stablized. He is on prednisone but not pain medication and doesn't appear to be in pain (although it can be hard to tell because he's such a stoic dog). He's about 12 years old, which is pretty old for a basset so we just don't know what to expect.

The new year looks to be more of the same, with Eliot as busy with work as he allows himself to be. We're starting to think about putting Dada into a full-time preschool but haven't done much about it yet beyond saying we should probably put Dada into a full-time preschool. She's happy where she is now in her mother's day out program but it's probably time for her to have a little more structure in her schooling and it would be nice to have her in a school that was closer to home (her MDO program is close to our old house in north Austin).

Dada is very excited about Christmas and is fascinated by the Christmas tree. in a continuing demonstration that she is a process artist, she has been decorating and undecorating the tree almost continuously since we put it this last Sunday. We're just happy she's occupied with something....

Dada Art Dec 2007

This little abstract was produced by Dada the other day and I found it remarkable for its composition and the clearly deliberate way Dada decorated the wide color stripes with dots. It might help to know that she did the dots in the stripes and then added the lines of dots between each stripe.