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Fri, Jan. 30th, 2009, 03:01 pm
New Blog!

I've decided to combine my blog and family photos website into a new blog here:
http://qirien.blogspot.com. Hope to see you there!

Thu, Jan. 8th, 2009, 06:50 am
Creamy foods, smiles, and LittleBigPlanet

First, a picture of Sapphire!

For some reason, ice cream gets very hard in our freezer. I guess I'm not a very patient person, because instead of setting it on the counter for a few minutes, I stick it in the microwave for ten seconds. :-) Of course, I'm not just impatient -- I'm also worried that I will put it on the counter and then forget about it for an hour or two and have really melted ice cream.

Did you know egg nog is good hot? Even soy egg nog! I've been trying to avoid having a lot of chocolate since I'm nursing Sapphire, so I've discovered hot egg nog instead of hot chocolate. She seemed crankier and more spit-uppy on days where I ate a lot of Christmas chocolate, but it could just be coincidence.

Sapphire's started smiling, which is so much fun. Quartz makes all sorts of silly faces and says nonsense words trying to get her to smile. Of course, he's probably only copying me, since I do the same thing. :-)

Sapphire woke up at 5am this morning -- which is great, because it means she slept through the night! When she went back to sleep at 5:30, I assumed the boys would be waking up soon (Onyx has been waking at 5:30 the past few days), so I got up and went downstairs and puttered around, and wrote this blog entry . . . and here it is 6:40 and no one is up. I could have been sleeping! Oh, well, it's been nice to have some time to myself and get a few things done.

Lately we've been playing LittleBigPlanet for PS3. The premise is simple -- a platform game where you jump around and avoid obstacles and get to the end of the level. While we've mostly finished the main game, the cool thing is people can make their own levels. So there's tons of fun levels that other people have made to play, and we made an easy one for Quartz to play (where you feed animals at a zoo). And, they've really done a great job on the multiplayer (both local and internet), where players can easily join or leave, and express themselves through hand movements and costumes. It's a great party game, because it's easy to learn and fun to play together (and not too competitive), and the kids like to watch it because it's cute and has great visuals.

Wes and I have also been reading a book of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories. While they are usually pretty predictable, I am amazed at how much of video games and modern pop culture has been influenced by his ideas. Things like a brain-in-a-jar, technologically advanced aliens, crypts hidden under houses, and people going insane weren't cliches then, but the fact that they are now is in part because of his works, I think.

Wed, Dec. 31st, 2008, 03:58 pm
A Year of Mirth and Merriment

Well, my parents and brother just left this morning, and it was really fun to have them here. The kids loved all the attention, and I loved all the help, and we even got to play some games together. I showed Joshua Battle for Wesnoth, Blob Wars, Bionic Commando, and LittleBigPlanet, and we played Ticket to Ride and Munchkin with him and my parents. I have to say, I never thought I would be playing Munchkin with my parents, but they actually seemed to enjoy it, and did pretty well. Another thing I never thought would happen -- my dad read the first volume of Girl Genius, and liked it!

On a more sour note, Quartz has picked up the bad habit of name-calling. Seems like twice an hour we hear him say "You're a thief!" and Onyx will reply, "I not a thief. You a thief!" I'm not sure either of them actually knows what a thief is, but that seems to be beside the point.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Mon, Dec. 22nd, 2008, 03:25 pm
Christmas Top Ten of 2008

Greetings from the Landaker's!

Here is our Top Ten list of favorite things from 2008:

10) Wes' parents finishing their house about 30 minutes away, so they can live
here sometimes and the kids and grandparents can really enjoy each other.
Andrea appreciates how helpful her mother-in-law is, too!

9) Wes getting a mini-laptop that he takes everywhere with him. Andrea has to
be content with a mini-van.

8) Going camping in Gila National Forest in February -- the boys loved the
campfire and throwing rocks in the river.

7) Visiting the Grand Canyon with Wes' brother and sister-in-law -- we stayed
in a great cabin in the woods, went geocaching, and enjoyed the wildlife (and
the canyon, of course).

6) Onyx progressing from saying a few unintelligble words to speaking complete
sentences. It has been so fun to get to know him better through his new

5) Receiving a fair amount of rain this summer, and the boys playing in the
mud. We loved that our basement didn't leak.

4) Quartz growing from a clumsy toddler to an energetic little boy who wants
to show everyone how high he can jump and how fast he can run. He is
becoming more independent, and he can now make his own peanut butter
sandwich, chicken nuggets, and hot chocolate.

3) Cramming in as much fun as possible during our week-long summer trip to
Utah. We imposed on lots of relatives, visited a dinosaur park with
life-size dinosaurs, and toured a beautiful cave after a grueling hike. The
best part was sharing it with my parents and relatives.

2) Riding trains, whether it is the New Mexico Rail Runner (Albuquerque's new
Commuter Rail), the zoo train, or the Aquarium train, the boys love them all.

1) The birth of our new daughter, Sapphire, on November 10th. She is so calm,
but very curious about the people and world around her!

We hope you have a joyous season of mirth and merriment, and a bright New Year ahead!

Tue, Dec. 16th, 2008, 06:04 pm
Sapphire, Movies, and Holidays

If crabs eat other crabs, is it "crabbibalism"?

Saw two movies recently -- one great and one okay. "Primer" is an awesome independent film about the ramifications of time travel with low-key, realistic acting and accurate techno-jargon. We also saw "Blade Runner", which was kind of disappointing -- I'd heard a lot about it, but never seen it. The setting was cool, but there was no real reason to care about anything or anyone, and the ideas could have been fleshed out a little more (pun intended).

Baby Ernie is creepy. Every time I see his face on one of Sapphire's diapers it creeps me out:

Onyx is very literal and precise, and sometimes gets mad when others aren't. If you call a construction vehicle a truck, he'll say, "Actually, it's an excavator" or "Actually, it's a skid steer loader". Sometimes he and Quartz will get into arguments like "It's a plane!" "Actually, it's an airplane." "No, it's a plane!"

Sometimes Quartz goes to timeout. Sometimes we exasperatedly ask Quartz, "Do you want to go to timeout?!" Onyx says, "I want to go to timeout!". When Quartz has a timeout, he will sit patiently near him and say "I'm having a timeout".

Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008, 08:41 pm
Quotes from a Week Spent at Home

When it's not quite time for bed, and the boys seem to have extra energy, sometimes we will go on a flashlight walk. The boys duct taped their flashlights to their dump trucks and set off down the hill into the darkness. Everything looks different at night, and to combine two of the boys' favorite toys (dump trucks and flashlights) is pretty fun. Tonight's the first night Onyx drove his dump truck the whole way around the block. It probably looks strange to cars passing by -- tiny flashlights bobbing and weaving close to the ground, like snakes riding on bicycles or something. It's something I really enjoy -- too bad it will be getting too cold soon. I guess we can always wear warm coats . . .

And, some random quotes from our family this week:
"Let's go to Budapest!" -Quartz
"I like forklifts." -Onyx, when a stranger asks how he is doing
"Cuttlefish are so cuddly!" -Wes
"I think it's about time for Sapphire to eat. I feel it in my bosom . . ." -Andrea
"Ga." -Sapphire
"I just wanted to climb on the stairs because we don't have a play set in the backyard!" -Quartz
"You're old." -Onyx, to stranger asking about kids' ages

Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008, 03:17 pm
Welcome, Sapphire Landaker!

The Landaker's would like to welcome their newest addition, Sapphire Ruth Ellen Landaker, who was born on Monday, November 10th, at 5:36am. She weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz., and is now home with her family and doing great.

Quartz likes to hold her and talk to her in a very cute high-pitched voice, and Onyx likes to give her things (useful: blanket; not useful: tiny legos) and say, "Don't cry, Sapphire".

Thu, Nov. 6th, 2008, 04:00 pm
Halloween, Countdown, and Cleaning

The boys are NOT dressed as "Bob the Builder". They don't even know who that is (I'm happy to keep it that way). They are very respectable, hard-working, and non-licensed Construction Workers.

I guess the baby could come any time now -- 3 weeks till the due date, though! Is it "nesting", or is it just "getting ready for the baby" when I clean the blinds and vaccuum thoroughly and buy tiny pink socks at Target? All of these are unusual behaviors for me . . . :-)

Quartz has been torturing Onyx lately -- walking up to him and pushing him, or hitting him, or sitting on him randomly. Well, it's not totally random -- he does it when he wants my attention. So we've been trying very hard to practice getting mom's attention by such bizarre acts as tapping mom on the leg, or saying, "Mom!". I know, I have some strange ideas -- but if Quartz would just trust me, I think they would work. :-) Actually, it's very hard not to get raging angry when I walk in and see Onyx crying in pain and Quartz sitting on him -- but supposedly getting angry is part of what he wants, so I'm not going to give him that. Look at me, I'm trying to manage anger by turning it into a competition . . .

Glad the election's over; now all the obnoxious political phone callers can stop calling my house all the time. Sadly, most of their messages made me want to do the opposite of what they suggested . . .

Tue, Oct. 28th, 2008, 09:38 pm
Endings, Plusses, and Minuses

You know how there's some long-running series where the end just isn't very satisfying? You go through this great process where you uncover all sorts of cool plot, and it seems like it's leading towards something awesome, but then the end is just not everything you hoped for. You know, like the Matrix, or Breaking Dawn, or Alias, or the latest Indiana Jones movie. Great fun, but the endings seem rushed or cheap or obscure.

Well, I'm happy to report that the concluding novel to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy is not at all like that. It takes every detail from the previous books, every bit of foreshadowing, every character, every mechanic of the magic system, and brings them together for an exciting, thoughtful, and satisfying conclusion. It's a good feeling, like playing Tetris. So here's hoping he can do the same thing for Wheel of Time's "A Memory of Light"! Wow, talk about a tough job . . . :-)

Here's some plusses and minuses of recent events:
- 2 year old boys in Sunday white shirts + Jello for snack in the nursery at Church
+ 2 year old boys who love to go to nursery

- Scrubbing the kitchen floor on hands and knees trying to clean up old spills
+ Smelling honeysuckle through the window that wafts in at floor level

+ Kids playing together happily and creatively
- Kids ending a happy playing session with "He hit me!"

- Parents reminding son that he is wasting time by complaining about having to go somewhere
+ Son telling parents they are "wasting fun" by making him go somewhere

And here's a picture from August when we went hiking to a local waterfall (sorry, haven't taken many pictures lately!):

Mon, Sep. 8th, 2008, 08:17 am
Pet Peeves of Unrealistic Media

Pet Peeves of Unrealistic Media
1) "Jungle" scenes that show animals together that are from totally different jungles of the world (e.g, tigers and capybaras, or gorillas and macaws)
2) Dinosaur scenes with dinosaurs from totally different time periods (Don't show a Cretaceous Tyrannosaurus eating a Jurassic Stegosaurus!)
3) Otherwise realistic animals that don't eat what they're supposed to (Sorry, a seal and a penguin wouldn't be "friends"; seals eat penguins!)
4) The absence of children in video games where children would be present (is this a fantasy world where people pop into existence as teenagers? Better explain it if it is!)

I realize some of these things are done in the name of making things easier or more fun, but especially in programming that purports to be "educational" or "realistic", I expect more!

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