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Showing posts from November, 2018

Another November in the Books

Our Boy Scouts wreath was delivered today, and it is a gorgeous day. In a normal place it would be early fall or even late summer. Tons of leaves on the ground, warm breezes and sunshine. I thought it was supposed to rain, but I guess I don't pay enough attention to the news while it's on! Maybe it shifted to rain overnight instead.

I'm doing my annual calendar creation, and it's hard to whittle down a year's worth of photos into a couple dozen (I stretch it to 3 or 4 dozen because I put multiple on each calendar spread).

And I'm trying to decide on Christmas cards. The girls had photos taken at Livia's school and they came out cute so I bought them digitally. They're black and white, which is supposed to be arty. But I wish they were color anyway. Oh well.

Our house is mostly decorated for Christmas/Advent. We have a few things to add -- Jane would like some more felt ornaments for the tree, and there are Advent decorations that we will make as the se…

Bible in 90: Accomplishment UNLOCKED

I finished the Bible in 90 today, which I started on September 1. I read from Genesis through Revelation in 90 days.

Being a rule follower I read the prescribed passages each day and didn't jump ahead (and luckily didn't fall behind). The only day I broke was when I finished Ruth instead of leaving a chapter unread. (I did a study on Ruth with our most recent former pastor, so it makes more sense to me and reminds me of him.)

Shawn asked me for my favorite part to prove I'd really read it all -- LOL. I highlighted several passages in my Kindle -- I read the Common English Bible version on my Kindle so there were few footnotes (and they were all hidden/you had to click the superscript letter, which I only ever did accidentally). My favorite, weird/never noticed them passages were:
All the tables are covered with vomit, filth overruns the place. Isaiah 28:8

I will scatter feces on your faces, the feces of your festivals. Malachi 2:3 Maybe I'm into the prophets (nah) or…

What to Expect at the LSU Holiday Spectacular

Last night I took the girls to the LSU Holiday Spectacular, which is a kick off event for the holidays hosted by the LSU Faculty & Staff Senate (I think). Like with the trick-or-treat down the row there is little information online about what to expect. But now that I've been I know! Although it's likely that they change things year-to-year, but here's what happened this year.

For parking I think the Barnes & Noble parking garage is the easiest. It's just a few bucks and you have covered parking that's an easy walk to the Student Union, where the event took place. The girls also love any chance to ride in an elevator (on our way back to the car we rode to the top floor -- looked out over the campus at night -- and then rode back to 2 for our car). A lot of the people who come are already on campus though, so it's less of a deal for them to find parking!

The event took place in the lobby area -- just up the middle outside stairs that face the quad. Ther…


In Sunday school we veered away from our usual topic (which is whatever the sermon is about) because there was no sermon during the Hanging of the Greens service. We also talked about steps to become a reconciling community and how our Thanksgivings were. But toward the end one friend asked a question she asked during Thanksgiving -- what's a day in your life where you remember being your happiest?

I did not answer. Others talked about unexpected free days with nothing to do/nothing planned. My answer has to do with my babies. And this friend who asked the question happens to be walking through a time of infertility. I remember what it feels like and wouldn't want to blindside her. I remember the offhand remarks people made when it took so long for me to become pregnant. (Specifically cutting, and probably something I've mentioned on here before: "you know, Mari, babies grow up," as if I only wanted a baby and didn't ACTUALLY want all that parenting entails.…

38 Trips Around the Sun

Hello to being a 38-year-old lady. In all its no-makeup, blotchy and wrinkled skin, but still fairly happy glory. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

I bought myself new Nike tennis shoes, because I wore out my previous sneakers in all the walking and activity in Minneapolis. That Kaep ad really got me. (Actually these were just a good enough deal on early Black Friday Penney's shopping.)

I have a present from Shawn and a couple from my mom to open later. Because Jane has piano lessons tonight we can't go out to eat. We'll probably go out to celebrate on Wednesday (tomorrow evening we have something else!).

Livia gave me the best birthday present with a nice potty experience! We're not there yet, but we're definitely on our way to potty training goals. She's filling up a chart with stickers and likes to say she's "pee trained"!

A Life Lived in Books

I just finished the book "I'd Rather Be Reading," by Anne Bogel. It was a QUICK read, but I enjoyed it. She writes a blog and has a podcast focused on reading, and this was a memoir-ish retrospective about reading and the reading life. I liked it, and it made me think about my journey as a reader. This would be much better as a thought-out, drafted and edited piece, but this can just be my initial, quick reactions because NaBloPoMo content doesn't write itself, you know?!

For one, I was SUPER jealous that for a time she lived in a house next door to a library. What a great real estate perk! I am an avid library user, but as time goes on I mainly do my reading on my Kindle. So in a way it's like the library is even closer since it's always in my house! For the girls' books of course we visit the library weekly, and we are on first-name basis with our librarians. We are working our way through the children's picture book section, and Jane is graduating …

Making Merry Early-ish

It feels weird to be decorating the house for Christmas before my birthday, and with a FULL week of November left. But if we didn't do it this weekend we would have to wait until NEXT weekend. This gives us extra time to enjoy the decorations (and extra time for me to spot and fill any gaps!).

Shawn decorated our walkway with the lights and lighted candy canes (Candy Cane Lane as we call it) and got the tree up, although it still needs to be decorated. I've got the various other decorations out -- stockings, kid crafts through the years hung on the walls with tape, stuffed animals, tchotchkes, framed photos.

And one of my favorites: Gran's ceramic Christmas tree. It has a wind up in the back that plays White Christmas. I coveted this thing for years, and toward the end of her life Gran didn't get it out anymore (it's fragile and fussy to get all the little plastic pegs in their holes). She gave it to me when I asked about it, but I haven't always gotten it out…

Movie Going

The girls and I went to the movies today (rather than clean or set up Christmas stuff -- maybe I'll tackle that tomorrow).

We saw Ralph Wrecks the Internet. We'd never seen the original, Wreck-It Ralph, but our friend gave us a synopsis last night when we said we were going. It was OK, and the mildly tense parts weren't too scary for Jane.

We went to the Movie Tavern because it's so convenient to knock out a movie and lunch together. But man it's expensive. There was also a 9:30 at a regular theater type, and that might have been better. But we had such a late night (not in bed until after 9 for the girls since it was bath night and we'd been hanging by a wood burning fire so hair needed to get washed anyway), I didn't know that we'd be able to rally and get around by then. (We were almost ready by 9:30, but it would have been pushing it.)

It wasn't as crowded as I expected, and there were many free seats. This theater isn't really near shoppin…

Turkey Day

In addition to my meal preparations, I also got to work crocheting a couple turkey hats for my turkey girls. I started yesterday, so it was a rushed job. I finished just a few minutes ago, cutting it close before our 3 p.m. meal.

They're reminiscent of hats I made when Jane was little -- her second Thanksgiving, and she had just turned 1. (That was the year I wrote about all the TV shows I watched as my NaBloPoMo fodder. HA.) But I did change things up a little, giving the turkeys cross eyes (reminiscent of Hei Hei from Moana, which incidentally is leaving Netflix soon so I think I'll probably buy a copy -- should I get an actual DVD or just a digital/streaming version, like from Amazon?).

I made Jane's hat too big because I was working on it after she went to bed. It's big enough for my giant melon, which should have been a clue it was too big. She wants to wear Liv's, which is only slightly small for her. Crochet stretches so it's not bad. The feathers were …

Preparing for a Feast

We're going to be home, just the four of us, for Thanksgiving. I bought a smallish turkey (11 lbs), the smallest I could find anyway. And I got ingredients to make deviled eggs, cranberry salad, green bean casserole, cornbread dressing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole (at Jane's request) and mashed potatoes & gravy.

On Monday we got an invitation to come to Thanksgiving at a church friend's house. Regular Mari's knee-jerk reaction was NO. I've planned, I'm cooking and I want to have the leftovers. But after talking to Shawn and then Jane, and finding out they both definitely wanted to go I decided "OK."

Look at me being flexible! (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

When I told our host that yes, we'd like to come, but I that already bought a turkey, she said to bring it and she would be glad to not have to make one! (She will have ham, sides and desserts.) In my reply I said OK, and that I would also have to bring the dressing and cranberry salad (can't…

Movie Memory Lane

We have been watching old musicals around here, mostly checking out from the library. It started with Mary Poppins, which we watched because one of the girls' friends dressed up as her for Halloween (and coincidentally so did our cousin's family, which we saw on Facebook later!). The girls both liked it, and Jane especially liked that the little girl was named Jane! The songs were a big hit, and we've listened to the sound track multiple times (it's available free with Amazon Prime music). It was just a REALLY long movie, at more than 2.5 hours. Many scenes could have been edited tighter and some eliminated. But times have changed, as have attention spans I guess?! Jane had no trouble watching it all the way through, but Livia was bored in some parts. Not sure if we'll try to see Mary Poppins Returns in theaters, but I do look forward to watching it at some point.

From there we watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks and then Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is one I proba…

Ramona Forever!

(I wonder if Johnny Depp got his Winona Forever tattoo because of it sounding like Ramona Forever? LOL, just kidding. And now it's "Wino Forever.")

One of Jane's birthday gifts was the complete set of Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. We've listened to the entire series on audio from the library (oh, how we love Overdrive!). Stockard Channing is the narrator and she is AMAZING. I would listen to anything she read, but sadly this is the only audiobook I could find that she has ever narrated. She doesn't even have a celebrity memoir! C'mon, Stockard, get on that! I tell everyone about the audio when it comes up -- it is really that good.

We have also worked our way through reading the series via the library. We've found there are different illustrators for different versions of the books. They were written over a span of 40 years or so (1950s until 1990s), but they keep being re-released with new illustrations. Jane likes the most recent illustrations bes…

Sundays Are So Hard

Sundays are my busy work days, even though I don't actually work!

We go to worship on Sunday mornings, then Sunday school afterward. Getting the kids out and where they need to be, back and forth, and keeping them mostly quiet and entertained is exhausting. I also record the sermon almost every week (I do have backup who did it while we were on sabbatical), so I'm moving the camera around and setting all that up. Then after we get home I have to edit, save and post the video to Vimeo using iMovie (not my favorite program). I also publish it 2-3 places on our website plus Facebook and Twitter, and I make a matching slider for the website home page. The video takes forever to save and upload -- such a time suck.

Each Sunday I write my weekly email about my girls that goes to their grandparents and some aunts and a cousin. That takes a long time to process photos and write about our week (using the photos to remember!), and sometimes I make a video mash up of the video clips I&#…

Eye Makeup Artistry

I fall down rabbit holes of time sucks on the Internet, and one of my favorites is Facebook video. I can scroll, scroll, scroll and watch (muted) videos of people making cakes, painting nails, giving various life hacks and tips, and -- maybe my favorite -- putting on makeup.

Krystal Clear Makeup might be my favorite of those. She has that vacant, weird stare after she puts on the makeup, but then just before the video ends she cracks and does a big smile that's so cute. She's also really good at putting on makeup!

Unfortunately, I am NOT good at putting on makeup. I went to the Clinique counter to get some foundation -- so I could get the right color and hoping it would work better with my dry, aging skin. The stuff I bought is fine, and I'm nervous about going through it too quickly. It's very light, and I didn't realize how pale I really am -- it matches my neck according to the counter lady who helped me. It really covers up the redness I wasn't aware was so …

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

(When I typed the title I first wrote "meatning" -- what a funny Freudian slip ... although really it's just fat fingers trying to fly. I still need to buy my turkey for next week!)

Yesterday I went to Jane's class's Thanksgiving feast. All four first grade classrooms do that every year. Other grades do other holidays I guess -- Kindergarten was Spooky Science with Dad on Halloween, and we'll find out what the other grades do when we get there. Shawn couldn't come with me because the feast was scheduled during the time he teaches. It was OK on my own though, despite the fact that I feel the twin emotions of inadequate and better than when I'm around the higher class parents who predominantly make up the school we attend.

The program was very cute -- the kids had memorized poems, which they said together, and each had an individual part of a single poem said with two or three others from the class. Jane's part was about a wishbone and the poem was…

Books for a Younger Me

We've joined a new Sunday school class, and it's still trying to find its footing. We left our previous class after the sabbatical mainly because we wanted a more progressive study of Scripture. I know it's hurt some feelings, and I am disappointed because I loved the people in our previous class and have deep relationships with them. We still see them, of course, our church isn't so big that you can really avoid anyone if you wanted. But it's a different season in our life and things change. Minneapolis certainly changed us.

Anyway, in the new class we're trying out different things and one we're considering is The Wired Word, a resource that takes current events and turns them into Sunday school lessons. For $80/year the leader gets a weekly email with a LOT of information plus discussion questions about 2-3 topics. The one we looked at this last week was about books and their impact on us as people of faith.

One of the questions that stumped me was some…

Pumpkin Hats and Thank You Notes

I haven't been crocheting much, but I did make a monkey hat for the new sibling of some friends I'd made monkey hats for the first three kids. And I made a couple pumpkin hats -- one for Livia and one for a friend from her school who had a pumpkin-themed birthday party (I also gave her a pumpkin book from the book fair). I didn't get to see the reaction when it was opened, and I haven't seen the mom since, but I hope they liked it. Livia's is super cute, and it's actually cool enough right now to wear hats here!

Jane had her party, so we're slowly working our way through thank you notes. It's so important to me to express gratitude in a written form, even if Jane said thanks when she opened the gift at the party. (And some of the children had left by the time she started opening.) Jane's 7 so can write and is writing the notes. She's also drawing pictures and making it take entirely too long! But they will get done.

The parties we've gone t…

Seasonally Appropriate

We lived in Minneapolis during our sabbatical, and I sadly barely blogged about it. I intended to write posts about each of the major (and minor) tourist attractions we visited - what we liked, what we didn't like, tips for them, etc. And *maybe* I still will? Could be good NaBloPoMo fodder.

While there we had very different wardrobes, especially for the girls. We stayed long enough that the cold broke and we were there for a nice spring and verging-on-hot summer. So we got rid of most of the cold-weather gear and clothes, including the girls' snow boots, snow pants and heavy coats.

Unfortunately I also garage saled/consigned/donated all of the layering shirts I had bought for Jane. I'm sure I was mainly thinking that she'd outgrow them before we would need them down here, and also I was trying to "cut weight" and eliminate some things to make packing easier to come home. But I didn't make a mental (or real) note that I would eventually need to replace t…

They Mean Well...

On Facebook, when I posted about my mermaid tail cake someone posted "#nailedit," which is a hashtag of things that are definitely NOT good, meaning you jokingly "nailed" it and in reality failed. At the party we laughed about it and she said I should really do a "#nailedit" post with my cake side-by-side with the professional photo I was trying to copy. I was really proud of the cake, so that hurt my feelings a little. (And if I made it again I could do it a lot better!) But here you go:

At church on Sunday I wore my hair down and curly, something I can do when it's A) clean and the weather is B) not hot and humid. (So those don't align too often.) The top is starting to get VERY grey and silvery. I spend some time thinking about whether to start dying or to just grey gracefully. (I've written about that before...)

ANYWAY (a different) someone asked me what was putting all that grey in my hair. I laughed and pointed to Liv and said "her …

Making a 7 Pinata

Jane said she wanted a pinata for her birthday party, so I started pricing them. They were like $30 unfilled. For something that was so temporary and destined for the trash I thought I would make my own instead. I'm not sure it saved money, if you consider that my time has monetary value (does it?), but it was a fun project and worked out OK. Originally Jane thought a mermaid or mermaid tail would be a good pinata shape, but I didn't like the idea of hitting something person-like (not to mention that shape would have been way too hard to make at home!).

Shawn had been in a fender bender (he wasn't at fault, and he and his car are fine now), so we got new car seats. So I had plenty of big cardboard lying around. I used my X-Acto knife (purchased in Minneapolis when I made Jane's slap bracelet Valentine cards) and cut out two 7 pieces, plus the same width pieces to make it 3-dimensional. I left a flap on the top to be able to put candy and treats in.

I initially used s…

Seventh Birthday Party, Mermaid Style

By the time it came to decorating for Jane's party I was kind of over it and half-assed things. We decorated the sun room and I did the crepe paper on the awning by the back door (otherwise plenty of people, including me, would bonk their heads). We did some tissue paper fish and this swirly crepe paper swag I'd bought from Oriental Trading and called it a day.

Because it was so chilly (forecasted high 56), I figured we might be inside some so I set up a coloring station by tearing apart a mermaid dollar store color book and getting out the girls' crayons and markers. No one used the coloring station, although plenty of people came inside and played in the living room. There's a draw to other people's toys, and it was a mess! I should have put toys away or at least gotten out things with fewer pieces! Ha.

For food we had a popcorn machine with the bounce house (and chairs and tables), and I made hot chocolate in the crock pot, had chips, carrots and ranch dip and …

Mermaid Pull Apart Cake

Jane got the idea for a mermaid party by looking at the Oriental Trader catalog, so we've run with the idea as best we can. We have mermaid-themed goodie bags, and her invitation had a mermaid on it. The bounce house place didn't have a mermaid-themed bouncer, but they did have a castle that we decided could look like it's under-the-sea. (If the rain doesn't stop we'll really BE under the sea for crying out loud. It is supposed to be clear and cool tomorrow.)

For the cake Jane originally wanted a sheet cake with mermaid pictures on it. I MAYBE could have done something like that (using cut outs or toys on the top), but after a perusal of Pinterest I found a cupcake pull apart cake in the shape of a mermaid tail. I showed Jane several versions, heavily influencing her to pick the one I liked/thought looked best and easiest. I also liked the idea of a cupcake pull apart cake in the shape of a 7 using the mermaid colors of teal, pink and purple, but she liked the tail…

A Perfect Age

Seven is my favorite number. I like crossing it when I write the numeral. I like 14 as well, which is 7+7. Jane thinks that's pretty funny -- that I have a favorite number plus I like its double. (She's learning about doubles now, in addition to lots of great math skills.)

Today Jane is 7.

I don't know that it will be the perfect age, but I know we will hold on by our fingernails and toenails whatever it brings us. After being sick last week she's been even grumpier and grouchier than usual. My Baby Center email today wishing her a happy birthday said seven is a great age -- kids are more independent but still look up to you and seek your guidance. Maybe Jane is ahead of the curve, because she HATES when I tell her what to do. So I'm doing my best to regulate myself and give her the chance to do what she needs to do without me nagging.

Jane and I ate lunch together at her school. It was fun to drop in and spend time with her in the middle of the day. She got new C…


We are on the other side of mid-terms; election results were not surprising to me. Here all of the people I voted for lost, and only a few of the amendment votes went the way I wanted. I'm heartened by the Democratic control of Congress, and I hope there will be SOME kind of check and balance of this terrifying, authoritarian presidency.

The most disheartening thing is the gerrymandering and how, once again, Democrat candidates as a whole received many more votes than Republicans. It's just that the Republicans drew the maps to be sure their candidates have a stronger hold. I realize a vote for Candidate A is not always a vote for Party B, but it's still a disgusting reminder of the crappiness of this system.

Some white guy on Twitter posted something like "elections are important, but remember than 99.9% of your every day life will not change based on what happens tonight." I saw that retweeted with comment so many times dissing it because what a privilege to sa…

Mortality in a Kids Book

Livia picked out this book when we were at the main library on Saturday. There was no reason to get it other than it was at her eye level and was small. She pulled it off the shelf and said "I want this one." So we checked it out.

It's pretty long/wordy, but a nice story. I was not prepared though because it's about a girl and her old man neighbor, their friendship and how it changes as she grows up and he gets even older. I started crying while reading it out loud for the first time.

[Spoiler] The old man doesn't die in the book, which was what I was expecting/why I was crying. He has to start using a wheelchair, so their roles reverse from when he pushed her around in her stroller to now her pushing his wheelchair. It was still pretty emotional, at least to me. There's nothing like being a snotty mess while your kids look at you like you're a lunatic!

Jane's reading progress now is about fluency and looking for messages in the books she reads. What…

Germs, Germs Go Away

Shawn came home from his trip sounding worse than all of us -- coughing and very hoarse. I hope he gets better soon, and I pity his students who have to listen to him tomorrow. Jane returned to school today and is feeling better, although she's still having attitude issues -- just rage-y and very mad about things for no apparent reason. No sure if that has to do with being sick, being almost-7, Daddy being away for a few days, or too much Halloween candy. I am dealing with a raging headache and some cold symptoms, but nothing like the hard, hurting cough the others have ... so far.

So it seems like we're all on the mend, or at least not getting worse.

Until about 10:30 last night when I was getting into bed and Livia started crying. I went in and she was very warm. At first I thought it was being buried in blankets in too hot jams. I changed her dipe, cooled her off but she was still warm so got the thermometer -- 101 fever. Tylenol, cooler jams and back to bed. She cried off…

What to Expect at Trick-or-Treat Down the Row at LSU

I took the girls to Trick-or-Treat Down the Row at LSU's Sorority Row for the first time this year. I kept googling, thinking I would find a post about what to expect, where to park, etc. But nothing other than a few LSU communications posts that were vague and mainly about cute costumed kids and some departments that come out to pass out candy too. So I thought I'd write what I found out after checking it out last Sunday.

The parking was kind of a madhouse and what I was most worried about. We were lucky because Shawn just dropped us off then went to his office before picking us up. There's a parking lot by the U-Rec, the student recreation center - and where Shawn works out, very close to the south side of the row. We were able to pull in there so we could get the girls out of their car seats.

We were only able to stay for one hour, from 3-4, although the event goes 3-5. By the time we left in the middle the parking situation was insane -- people parked on the grass and…