Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Child

Thought I would do a quick post with some pictures of Sadie engaged in some pre-Christmas activities.

We took Sadie to the Christmas Market and thought she might enjoy the merry-go-round. Weirdly, it wasn't like ones in America where the entire platform turns; the cars/horses/whatever actually moved around. This meant that an adult couldn't stand on it next to her. We weren't expecting that but we gave it a try. She really had a lot of fun just sitting in the car. However, once it started up she was not happy. She was crying, looking around for us, and eventually started trying to get out. Hunter had to grab her off as it was moving by because we really thought she was going to launch herself out of the little car. For a while after, she would still bring up the "scary car." I guess she just wasn't ready to ride by herself.

So, after the carousel fiasco, I thought she might like to try some kinderpunsch, which is basically non-alcoholic gluhwein. However, she drank too much of it through a straw before it was fully cooled and spilled it on herself, so that was also a bummer. I couldn't even get her to hold the boot for a picture so here she is sitting next to it.

But, not everything was terrible! I got us a small Christmas tree (you can see, it's pretty close to Sadie's height) for our apartment and Sadie had fun helping us decorate it. We don't have a ton of ornaments for it but Sadie is enjoying it and not tearing it apart.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope to have some more pictures of little Sadie to post soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Roll Tide

Some of you may remember the sweater I knitted for Sadie a while back. Well, a few of my friends who are Bama fans had a baby last winter, and since the sweater had an elephant motif, I thought it would be fun to make a crimson and houndstooth version:

The "Knitty Gritty"

If you aren't a knitter, you can skip this part because it's where I talk about the specifics of what I did in the pattern. 

As written the pattern comes with blank yoke charts that you can use if you don't want to make elephants. I got the houndstooth pattern from this link, which is in Spanish but I just needed the image part anyway. In the yoke pattern that comes with the sweater, the part just above the elephants is six stitches across and then it decreases to four stitches. The houndstooth pattern I had was four stitches across, so on the wider part beneath it, I just left one stitch white on each side. I was only about 99% sure it would work out, but I think it's cool how it has that sort of Escher-ish gradient, and it's certainly recognizably houndstooth.

This is the 12-18 month size, but I think it actually ended up a bit big. This baby will be one in December, so maybe it will even last until next football season!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Portrait of the Sadie as a Young Dubliner

Alright, so we went to Dublin last weekend (actually, by the time most of you read this it will probably be more like two weekends ago. I'm slow). My friend Jeni, who I've known since I was about three, lives there, so we didn't have to pay for a hotel, and the flight is both short and cheap. She lives in a suburb called Dun Laoghaire, which is pronounced "dun leery," which, Irish, what?

One weird thing happened as we were entering the country. I had to say why we were going there, and where I was staying, and they asked about Jeni and how I knew her. I gave them her birthday and they pulled up her picture on a screen and were like, "is this her?" Which was weird to me but they let us in.

The first thing we did (after dropping off bags and such) was to go to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. I am really into old books and book arts and stuff, so this was a real treat for me. It was really cool to see, and we also got to see the "long room" in the library which smelled amazing. It actually reminded me of a perfume I have that is supposed to smell like books. And of course, I bought a coloring book at the gift shop. Hunter took a few pictures outside:

The obligatory shot of Sadie in the carrier. She's getting pretty big, so there may not be too many more of these.

It had been a long day for Sadie and after one minor meltdown, we met up with Jeni and got a quick dinner before heading home. I had my traditional first-day-of-trip-not-quite-migraine, but luckily you can just buy pain reliever at the grocery store LIKE A NORMAL COUNTRY so it was gone by morning. And the best part was that Sadie actually slept in her little travel tent. I'd had her practice with it in the week leading up to the trip and I was really happy that she slept in it with no problem. It likely didn't hurt that she was super tired by the end of the day, either!

Saturday morning Sadie woke up ridiculously early, as is her wont. The first thing we saw was Leinster House, which was starting a tour just as we got there. The tour guide spoke extremely fast, which I guess is an Irish thing, but I did gather that Irish people love JFK, and this tour guide at least used the phrase "alleged assassin" to describe Oswald, so yeah.

Next stop was St. Stephen's Green, a park, where Sadie tossed bread to some pretty aggressive seagulls that edged out every duck in sight.

She also played a bit at a playground but I was to busy preventing her from running into things to get any pictures.

We had planned to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral, but they had a graduation on that day so we had to save that. Our next stop was the Guinness Storehouse. There were aspects of it that I liked, but it was the end of the day and Sadie was getting so heavy that it was difficult to really enjoy. It's also mega-touristy, but that's no surprise. They did let us jump a large portion of the queue because we had Sadie, so at least we didn't have to wait very long. Inside, they had a large fish riding a bicycle which Sadie was obsessed with. Seriously, she kept wanting to go back and look at it. I was really hoping the gift shop would have something with the fish on it I could get for her, but they just had one adult t-shirt and I ended up not wanting to stand in the line anyway.

After this, we went and had a few drinks at a pub. By this time, Sadie was pretty fond of Jeni. Jeni and her boyfriend, Kev, offered to take Sadie home so Hunter and I could go out for a meal ourselves. I was a bit worried about how Sadie would handle it, but she did fine! She didn't even cry, which amazed me, and Hunter and I got to eat by ourselves and go to a real bar, which was pretty cool.

Sunday morning we went to the Dun Laoghaire market, where we ate some crepes and Sadie ran around. When she started getting tired, I walked her around in the carrier and we went to a pub to watch the rugby world cup, which Ireland was competing in. Of course, when Sadie woke up, she just wanted to run around everywhere. Sadie is truly the best and handles our travels better than I ever could hope, but she really hates ever sitting still, which can be really tiring.

We were able to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday afternoon. I actually had forgotten the carrier and wasn't sure how Sadie would handle that, or how Hunter and I would handle that, but it wasn't so bad. She just kept wanting to look at all the shiny things in the gift shop.

Our next stop was Christ Church, but it was no longer on summer hours so it had closed like, 15 minutes before we got there. We did get some outdoors pictures though.

 On our way to a pub for dinner, we stopped at Dublin Castle and Sadie ran around in a courtyard a bit. She just never quits!

So apparently a thing in Ireland is that on Sundays, the pubs have a carvery where you get some meat and potatoes and veg; the food is all very much what I think of British Isles food as being. I went through and I didn't even get everything they offered and it was enough for Hunter and Sadie and me. We also got some raw oysters, because they are supposed to go really well with Guinness. And once again, Sadie had basically had it at that point, so we went home and just chilled a bit before going to bed.

It was a fun trip but I didn't realize til the end that I didn't actually get any pictures of Jeni and me together! Maybe I can photoshop one. Dublin was really fun, and definitely somewhere I would go back to since there are so many things we didn't see. Every trip with Sadie is an adventure and I am so thankful she is a good traveller.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Games We Play: Broken Sword, Broken Age, Gone Home

Over the past few months, Hunter and I have played a few more adventure-y type games, mostly with him manning the keyboard and me sitting next to him helping with puzzles. So I thought I'd share my feelings on them in some sort of "mini-reviews," for fun.

Broken Sword

This is an old-school adventure game I got from a Humble Bundle. It's a mystery game involving the Knights Templar taking place mostly in Paris, although you also travel to Spain, Ireland, and Syria. Hunter read Foucault's Pendulum shortly after we finished the game, so many of the people and places referenced were familiar to him. You alternate between play as Nico, a French reporter, and George, an American tourist. It's pretty standard adventure game stuff, although one advantage it has over a series like King's Quest is that you can't die or mess things up irrevocably, which is nice. A disadvantage, at least for people who don't play and love adventure games, is that the puzzles can be hard. For Hunter, who wasn't raised in this genre quite as much as I was, some of the solutions just didn't make sense. I, on the other hand, usually thought, "of course you would do that how does it not make sense?"

The story was mostly pretty fun, although the ending left something to be desired. There are more games in the series, and I own two of them, so perhaps I'll talk about them sometime in the future. If you LOVE adventure games, this is a great one to play. If that isn't your genre, then Broken Sword might bore or annoy you.

Broken Age

This is a Kickstarted game in two "acts." I actually did the controls during the first act, since Hunter had already played it. As you can see from the above picture, there are two main storylines: a girl in  a pretty low-tech world who is scheduled to be sacrificed to a monster, and a boy on a pretty weird spaceship.

I'm not going to give anything away about how these two stories are in the same game, but I will say this: I was so immersed in the story that I wasn't even trying to figure out how the two were related. Which, I read a lot and I am always trying to figure out the ending, and I'm typically pretty good at it. But here, I didn't want to or need to because I knew the story would guide me there. To me, that says a lot about the quality of the game because I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was playing a game, I was just going along with it.

There are some trickier puzzles (particularly in the second act) and again, if adventure games aren't just a part of the way you see the world you might have trouble with them. At one point, I suggested that Hunter do something which he thought made no sense, but it was correct and to me it totally did make sense. However even if you aren't an "adventure gamer," the learning curve is pretty low, the art is gorgeous, and you can't die or mess things up. Of the three games in this post, this is definitely the best.

Gone Home

So, it's debatable whether Gone Home is even really a game. Let's just say it's an interactive story. You play from the perspective of Kaitlin, a girl arriving home after spending time in Europe. No one is in her family's house, and as you explore the rooms you figure out why. It's set in 1995 with a great Riot Grrl soundtrack featuring Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy and the retro details are great. The story unfolds as you find objects throughout the house: notes, documents, and audio diaries that help to explain why no one is home.

There is no skill level involved in this, no reflexes or problem solving or anything. You literally just walk around the house and look at and find things that tell a story. We finished it in probably under 2 hours, in one session. I will say, this one was slightly harder for me to sit there and knit, because there is so much to read. Chunks of the story are revealed through audio, but a lot of it is papers you pick up and read. If this sounds even remotely like something you would like, I would check it out because it is really good.

And those are just the single player games... maybe one of these days I can post about Diablo III, or Hearthstone, or the card games we play...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Born on the Bayeux, Part 4: The Last Few Pictures

So, 2 months later, I finally post the last pictures from our trip to France. I'm hoping to be able to post more in the coming weeks, since Sadie is now going to a playgroup three days per week, which gives me a little more time to myself. I miss her so much, but it is nice to be able to use the computer without her pulling me away.

We started out in Amiens, where we had spent the night. Of course, they have a cathedral there as well:

And this cute little alleyway canal, which we both thought looked like something from a medieval fantasy videogame type setting.

There is also this tower that's pretty clearly designed by the same person as the modern church from the last post:

Our last stop for the day was in Laon. There is a big church up on a hill. 

So, it took a long time, but that's our trip to France!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Born on the Bayeux, Part 3

So now we arrive at the main part of the trip. We really wanted to see the Bayeux Tapestry, and then decided that since Omaha Beach is really close, that we would go there. It's kinda funny, that morning I was noticed that we were in the middle of this two-week period where there were events commemorating D-Day. Then we realized it was June 6, so... that worked out well.

We started at Bayeux in the morning. There was something going on in the cathedral, I think war-related because there were a bunch of soldiers about, so we couldn't go in, but I did get a picture.

We also saw this memorial which I believe was for residents who had died in concentration camps:

And of course, we saw the Bayeux Tapestry, which you aren't allowed to take pictures of. I have to say, during my time in Europe, I've seen many things. There are some, like the Mona Lisa, which I think you get basically the same experience seeing a picture (well except that if you look at a picture you won't be craning your head over all the tall people taking selfies in front of you). The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the few things that I think is an experience worth seeing in person. For one thing, it's huge. It's 70 meters long. And for someone like me, who does needlework, it was really cool to look at the stitches up close. I even bought an embroidery kit in the shop so I can learn to do it for myself!

After Bayeux, we headed to Omaha Beach. I had actually been there before, but Hunter hadn't and really, I'm glad I went back. If you know me, you know I'm not really into patriotic stuff or like, military history. But just being there, kinda made me proud to be an American. I guess it's another thing where being right there is a different experience. We didn't take pictures there, either, because we felt a bit weird about it.

Our intention at that point was to go back through Caen, where we had stayed the night, and look around and eat lunch. But Sadie fell asleep in the car and we didn't want to wake her up, so we drove through a McDonald's. I tell ya, ordering through one of those speakers in a foreign language is not easy. But at least I did get a Royal with Cheese!

So, we skipped Caen and headed next to Rouen.

I think the Rouen Cathedral was my favorite; I loved how lacy it is. We saw quite a few cathedrals on this trip, and really, they all look different. I'm hoping in the future to make a post with pictures of all the facades, so you can see next to each other how distinctive they are.

Anyway, there is only one day left of the trip, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Born on the Bayeux, Part 2

Ok, so we spent the morning in Boulogne. We ate breakfast outside, where I noticed a fun difference between French and German people. It was breezy and shady out, but probably going to be a warm day. I guarantee you a German parent would have had their kid in a hat and jacket, while our French hostess was fanning herself with how hot she thought it was. It was basically perfect temperature.

As I mentioned, we stayed at a small bed and breakfast and I noticed it would be the perfect place to stay if you were on the run. The reservations were made completely by email, not through a booking system, we paid in cash, and were never required to provide any kind of identification. Just an interesting thing I hadn't experienced before.

Ok, so in Boulogne, there is sort of a walled old town. There is also a huge crypt that had just been opened a few days before we got there. It was pretty cool, both literally and metaphorically.

There was also a museum that had kind of a mish-mash of different things: Egyptian, Greek, and, surprisingly, a huge collection of Sugpiaq masks. They also had some contemporary Inuit art, which I thought was really cool because it sets indigenous peoples in the context of still being alive and creating today. It was doubly cool to see that in a different country. Europeans seem to know even less about Native Americans than... Americans. Next to one of the contemporary masks, it said it would be used ceremonially after being displayed. That was probably the most unexpected thing we encountered on our trip.

We also walked around a bit in the old town (I did SO MUCH WALKING on this trip) before heading to Le Havre, our next destination.

Le Havre had another unexpected sight: a very modern and interesting cathedral.

And here's a view looking up from inside.

We also saw an older church with this creepy gargoyle:

And a memorial that I believe was for both World Wars:

So that's day two of our trip! I know these posts are really slow in coming, but I'm hoping that during the next few days I'll be able to get caught up!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Born on the Bayeux-Part 1

Last weekend, Hunter had yet ANOTHER holiday (Corpus Christi, I believe), so we took a little trip to France. We rented a car in Brussels and drove to some cities along the north coast, including Boulogne-sur-mer, Calais, Dunkirk, Le Havre, Caen, Bayeux, Rouen, Laon, and Amiens. The main thing we wanted to see was the Bayeux tapestry, and then we saw that Omaha Beach was really close to that so we figured we'd go there, too. Then we realized we were there on June 6, so I guess that worked out.

So anyway, our first stop was Dunkirk, which was an important site in World War II. Because of the war history and it's proximity just across the channel, most of the towns we went to seemed to be pretty big destinations for English tourists. However, I used mostly French and people didn't usually just switch to English.

Pirate-looking ship parked in the harbor

War Memorial

I really liked the way this window was darker on the inside

Church from the outside

We next went to Calais, which is where you can get ferries to Dover.

The Hotel de Ville

Rodin Statue

Sadie and I

We walked around Calais for a while, including down to the beach. I even ended up getting a little sunburnt!

Our last stop for the day was in Boulogne-sur-Mer. We stayed at a great bed and breakfast. Since we were the only people there that night, the owner gave us the biggest room, where Sadie had her own bedroom. This was pretty close to her normal sleep situation, so she went to bed close to her regular time and Hunter and I could hang out for a bit.

An old church

And some shots of Sadie goofing around:

So that was the first day! I'm going to continue this later. It's really hard for me to find time to write posts, but I think if I break it up maybe it will be a little easier.