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Showing posts from November, 2016

Nine Years of NaBloPoMo

I looked at my NaBloPoMo tag on my blog and realized I had 299 posts with that tag. Today's makes 300. Divide 30 days in November and that would mean I've been doing it for 10 years? I just checked and nope. I must have tagged more than just the first post of the day, because I started in 2008, so this makes the ninth year completed. Weird to have completed exactly 30 extra posts. (Here's my first NaBloPoMo tagged post.)

This may have been the hardest year to do NaBloPoMo. Everything is just so awful and terrible. I say that knowing full well 2017 will bring even bigger, more awful challenges. I hope I'm still able to write next year!

I also realize in some of my ranting posts I don't cite or link sources. My journalistic muscle is rusty maybe, or I'm also realizing that no one cares about facts or the truth or more information. NO ONE CARES.


I have been on two big vacations with my inlaws. We went to Dollywood in Tennessee and to the Outer Banks in Nor…

Not Ready to Make Nice.

I really liked this post, No, We Don't Have to "Get Over" Anything.
I’m not okay with this.
I’m not getting over it.
I’m not going to accept it.
I’m not going to move on.

I’m not going to shut up.I’m not going to make nice or give the benefit of the doubt or hold my tongue or fake unity or pretend that my eyes don’t see what they see.They see clearly, and that of course is the source of my burden.I don’t want to see this, but I do. Day by day new crazy things happen. Each new appointment brings a new awfulness to the scene.

(The Secretary of Education is particularly troubling, and we need to call and write our members of Congress to express our displeasure. She has no experience and is anti-public schools. If you have kids who go to school or did go to school, if you are a public school teacher or love a public school teacher, or if you just care about how we educate our kids in the U.S. this should matter to you!)

We also learn more about the admitted corruption in DT'…

Read: Murder in the Bayou

Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown

This book is kind of terrifying, chronicling the unchecked power held by parish sheriffs. I'm sure not all are corrupt, but the author has revealed illegal actions in this parish's department. This isn't close to where I live in Louisiana, but then it's not a very big state.

As far as the book itself I could have used more details about the victims. I read another reviewer say something similar. There was just nothing personal about them. So they were drug users and sex workers, that was certainly repeated frequently. But what else? In most cases we didn't even know their races. I found this troubling throughout the book to not know the races of most of the people being discussed. Pictures of the victims would have been helpful too. And thinking about some of them left children behind ... maybe a count of how many motherless children there now are thanks to the criminal enterprise t…

Crocheted Blue & Orange Dino Hat

Yesterday I finished a dinosaur hat for a friend. It's his birthday today -- he is 3! I still might add braided ties to the ear flaps, although Jane says they aren't needed and I kind of like the hat how it is. I still need to wash it to rid it of any lingering cold germs.

I hope I'll get to see the friend later this week to give him the present. Last month I'd babysat for him and his siblings (I had five kids for about an hour -- including two babies -- and I survived!), and I'd asked him if he'd like a dino hat and if yes what color. He chose blue with orange spikes.

We weren't invited to his party even though his mom told me about it -- it was weird because we always come to his older brother's (he and Jane are the same age/long time friends). We met at the park a couple weeks ago and were comparing notes on renting bounce houses. She told me they were getting one for little brother's party, where they were having it but not exactly when/what tim…

This is 36

In its short hair, filtered, no-makeup glory.

I had a rough night with chills and hot flashes. I feel some better this morning, but not great. I need to be healthy tomorrow to go to church. I'm reading the Scripture. D'oh.

I've lived away from Indiahoma as long as I lived there (approximately). I moved away when 18, and it's 18 years later. That includes living in Stillwater for school and coming home for summers. I guess it's not fully true until the same time I left, which would be next August. But the symmetry of 18 and 18 feels significant anyway.

We don't have plans today. Not sure if we'll do anything. I don't have a present to open, although Jane has been drawing me pictures and Shawn made me a card with pictures of the girls. I didn't even buy myself anything this year!

Edit to add: My mom DID leave me a present to open! I just didn't know it was there. xoxoxo

Phoning it in

I finally got a hair cut today -- just before I turn 36. My back is a little better, but I'm still pretty sick with my flu symptoms. I have aches and shift from chills to hot flashes. My head hasn't stopped hurting and I have a fever. Can't imagine how I'd be feeling if I weren't taking ibuprofen at every chance I can.

Thank goodness for the world's best husband picking up the slack. The house may be crumbing around us, because I was behind on cleaning anyway. I can't imagine getting out the Christmas stuff or dealing with that, but I hope when I feel physically better I will.


Generation Catalano

I have the flu or something. And I hurt my back while making Thanksgiving lunch. I moved my heavy Kitchen-Aid, but didn't notice anything. A bit later I was hunched over rifling through a drawer of our dining room hutch for a gravy spoon and OUCH. I stayed hunched. I powered through lunch and then fed Livi, took a rest with her until the sun woke us up. Then Gingie (thank the Lord for Gingie) watched the girls while I laid on a heating pad for an hour. (Shawn was out of town/coming home from a family funeral.)

I'm still pretty sick and my fever has spiked to 102. Advil should bring it down ... I hope? I don't know. I feel like crap. And my back still hurts.

Hey - I wrote about wanting my insides to match my outsides ... but I guess this is more like my insides matching my other insides (physical and emotional)? Ugh.

One good thing I read on Twitter today: The Agony & The Angst: An Oral History of My So-Called Life.

Proud to be generation Catalano, but I was sad that th…

Thanksgiving Prep

Last year I wrote detailed posts about my Thanksgiving menu and the cooking/prep process. Today has been a busy day with prep and cooking. I didn't take any pictures of the food. The menu is basically the same, although I'm not making the broccoli salad (it's never been as good as it was the first year I made it), and I'm giving up on homemade rolls. They're amazing, but store-bought brown-n-serve will be just fine too.

I'm tired. Was on my feet a lot. Last year I was pregnant and had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes for about a month while I was doing the Thanksgiving cooking. I was on my feet and busy all morning. I'd had my snack but I still felt weird. That's the only scary episode I had during the pregnancy, and I kind of blacked out -- not fully but everything went black/I lost vision while I stumbled to the table and sat down. I couldn't stop laughing after I recovered. But it scared Shawn. I was very pale too. Nothing like that happe…

Make My Outsides Match My Insides

Or vice versa?

I still feel terrible. I am not reeling any longer, and I can stand my ground.

My outsides match that internal upset. But I need to start something to keep myself together.

That means exercise. That means a hair cut (scheduled for this Friday). That *might* mean wearing makeup more often.

What else should it mean? More rest? (Once Liv and I are better that should come) More reading? More movies?

I've got to keep myself together. I do not want to feel "better" or OK with the situation, but I do want to be able to live my life and be ready for whatever comes our way.

Volunteering with Gritted Teeth

I'm a volunteer at my church. It's become a bigger "position" than I expected at first, and I just kind of fell into it. There wasn't a time when someone asked "will you do X, Y and Z." It was more like "we need help with our website," and I lunged at the chance.

The responsibilities morphed as I kept seeing more things that could be done and took on additional responsibilities when asked. When I was going to be out for maternity leave I suggested the church hire an intern to take over for a few months. That morphed into something entirely, and I've been told jokingly (perhaps?) that I've been fired because ...

The church hired a communications director, which really is great. She has zero communications experience, which is not so great.

She'll work out fine, and I've been spending even more time training her. And of course NOTHING is being done to my liking. I'm biting my tongue and sitting on my hands a lot. (Or bitching…

The Grace of Grandparents

I was in front of someone in line at Target this week and she was on the phone (people are always on the phone). She was talking about her toddler daughter and how she'd been a handful that morning. The mom had to get groceries and didn't feel like dealing with her. So she called her dad and asked if she could drop off her girl, so that's where the daughter was. (Apparently the person on the other end of the line had asked.)

I wonder if she understands the privilege of that -- having family so close? Of having a safety valve like that whenever you feel like it.

I felt so jealous eavesdropping, even though I only had one of my two children with me, and she was sitting happily in the cart. I would love that option of spontaneous drop off.

I could probably build relationships with some people at church to the point I'd feel comfortable dropping off one or both girls for a few hours at a time. But I'm so uptight, I don't know that I ever will. I also have a weird …

Filler Post

One week until my birthday... Better get shopping!

(Or donate in my name to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, Together Baton Rouge or similar.)

My mom made it here for a Thanksgiving visit. The girls are playing with her in the living room.

Livia has been sick. Jane had a short-lived ear ache and cold last Sunday. By Monday, when she had her 5-year checkup, she was completely healthy. I asked the doctor about her ear, but it was fine. Livia didn't start feeling bad until Thursday or so. Not sure if it's the same virus or something else. Shawn has been battling a sore throat for a couple days too. My chest congestion started last night. Pathetic family. Jane is still raring to go.

When Livia coughs sometimes she throws up, so that's fun and messy. She's been in bed with us when it happens. And I've gotten a shirt-full a few times. Lovely. Grateful for laundry room that works so well and time to get it all done. Livia's had a mild fever t…

Iron Man ... not Iron Girl!

Jane dressed as Iron Man this year for Halloween, part of her ongoing love for the Avengers (thanks, Gingie!). I didn't put a lot of thought into it -- she chose it, I double checked (maybe triple checked) with her before buying the costume on Amazon. She LOVED it, and I probably didn't let her wear it enough, although she got to wear it to the Halloween parade, Trunk-or-Treat and Trick-or-Treating, although she left the mask off most of the time because it made it hard to breathe and look around. She was also adamant that she was Iron Man, not Iron Woman or Iron Girl like some people said when they saw her dressed up.

I read a great post right around Halloween about boy choices vs. girl choices and how parents/society can be overwhelmingly proud of girls choosing a typically boy activity or costume. I admit a smug sense of pride that my girl isn't constrained by gender norms at this point as far as her Halloween choice was concerned. But the point of the article, which re…

More Terrifying Reading ... I refuse to look away.

Some articles about how to talk to people/persuade them, although I don't think anything will persuade white supremacists from their core beliefs, I have to hope that some of his supporters are open to dialogue:

Using Strategies to Persuade
And in Storify/Tweet form: Rhetorical Theory for the Dinner Table
From the Southern Poverty Law Center: Responding to Every Day Bigotry

An incomplete list of reasons why supporting Trump was such a bad idea:
Misogyny: Trump and his supporters don't treat women as full equals. WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN. This is more about just me being equal. This is also about my daughters being equal to your sons.Racism: Trump is supported by the KKK and the American Nazi Party. His supporters are violent and awful to people of color and a particular faith. His rhetoric has incited violence and continues to do so even more now.Media: Trump bashes the media and threatens reporters. Diminishing the Fourth Estate is absolutely a fascist government step. We're …

What a Darling Boy ... Gender Norms in Dressing My Baby Daughter

One of the first reactions I had when learning we were having a daughter was a negative feeling about the bows and glitter and girly-ness of dressing her. (I was also terrified of the patriarchal system we brought her into, and that fear is more deeply rooted now in the start of her sixth year, but you know what I mean...)

My fears of "girlie" clothes have been pretty much unfounded, and I've found plenty of clothes I'm fine with Jane wearing. And she gets to choose what to wear from what I've bought and has been handed down to us. I help with appropriateness -- always shorts/leggings under dresses for school, always tennis shoes at school for safety and dressing for the weather -- and I probably "help" a little too much to get my favorite tops or pants worn. But Jane's learning to be confident in her style and clothes choices. (Her latest is Avengers, thanks to my mom -- and she wears her sparkly Captain America shield shirt at least once a week ..…

Crafting to a Story: Hot Air Balloon

The LSU Museum of Art does a program every month called Stories in Art. They read a book and do a craft with the kids who come. It's a pretty fun program and is the first Friday of the month. Before Jane started at her current preschool we went regularly, but because it's in the mornings we couldn't do it while she was in school.

Over the summer I looked forward to taking her (and Livia) to it again. But for whatever reason they didn't meet in June and July. Of course I didn't realize that in June and got Jane all excited to go.

When we realized they weren't having the program I put my thinking cap on and my Pinterest fingers to work and we came up with this craft and reading a Curious George book we had checked out of the library.

We were able to use supplies we had on hand - construction paper, yarn and a toilet paper roll (for the basket). Jane was a happy camper, I didn't have to battle downtown traffic and it passed some time.

The balloon itself didn&…

Bullet Journal Update - Mixed Book

I've been using my bullet journal as a planner for a little over a year. I haven't been consistent with it, and when the baby came things kind of fell apart in the scheduling/planning department.

I'm in my second notebook, and this time I went with a hardback version similar to what's recommended by "real" bullet journalists. I got mine from Target on clearance though, and it's off-brand.

I've found that I much preferred the spiral-bound book that I used at first, because I like leaving the book open and turning it to the current page. That's not possible with the hardcover, and even with the ribbon bookmark it's not as quick access for me. So I have a spiral-bound to move to when I finish this one up. I'm only halfway done with it though ... probably because I don't use it as much because it's slightly less useful to me!

My favorite thing about my bullet journal is the making lists. I love-love-love lists (in fact I want to make …


This SNL cold open was powerful and, if not healing at least comforting, to me. I watched it live last night, and I was grateful I had decided to. I wasn't sure I could stand watching Alec Baldwin's Trump now that there's nothing at all funny about it. I definitely cried during the song. (And woah - Dave Chappelle was funny af.)

(FYI: Leonard Cohen's "Ain't No Cure For Love" was the song Shawn and I danced to at our wedding reception.)

Church this morning made me feel a little better and a little worse.

The sermon was good, although there was nothing condemning hate crimes, racism or vulnerable people. There was some mention of the "hurricane of a week," and the point was made ... I think. But I'm sure people of the opposite persuasion as me could read their own meaning into it.

Communion is always good. And a way to help me look at the bigger picture beyond just a nation falling.

BUT I also felt a little crazy ... because no one else seeme…

How are you?

At the grocery store today I ran into a Sunday school classmate. She's easily 30 (40?) years older than me, and very kind. I like her so much.

But I also think she supports Trump. (6/10 white voters did, and that's probably higher here in blood red Louisiana so odds are...)

When she said hello and spoke to Livia, who was riding in the cart she asked "How are you?" and the automatic "Oh, we're fine" came out involuntarily.


I didn't feel immediate anger toward her, and I guess I don't really feel that now. But I am not OK, I am hurt and mystified. And even in the moment I realized I should answer differently and tell her the truth. But instead I kept on with my shopping.

I'm reading a lot more than I should. Listening to bits and bobs of NPR when I can stand it. (On the way to the grocery store heard a story about how Planned Parenthood defunding would work and what it would mean to low income women ... and I got so upset. I sti…

Self Care and Nursing Shirts

I've been reading some about "self care," which might just be "basic care," as in eating, moving your body, sleeping ... going through the motions of day-to-day living until you feel better. Part fake it til you make it and part genuine survival.

I've also seen a tweet that said "enough with the self care - this is why they think we can't be president" (or something like that). So yeah, there's that. Also an article about a harder kind of self care.

One thing I found mildly helpful was making a list of things that comfort me. I guess ways I can care for myself. That's somewhat trending on Twitter, at least I've seen a few similar lists. But I'm really not feeling much better.

Here's my list so far:
My babies & husband Cool air ... finally Cake making videos Crochet Offline reading Voyager (mid 7th season) Sleep Dixie Chicks musicConsignment shopping Today I wore my favorite nursing shirt, even though it is falling apart…

Breastfeeding Reading & Yeast Infection Update

I am cautiously optimistic that my deep breast duct yeast infection is under control. I'm still taking grapefruit seed extract twice a day and keeping up with the increased laundry with vinegar rinse, but my pain is gone. (The fear of pain is not, but that's to be expected I think.)

(Read about the cost of fighting this infection here.)

The search for answers led me to a wonderful book, Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding. (I also found it in Barnes & Noble's "scratch and dent" for $5, but of course I paid full price!)

I'd recommend this book to any breastfeeding mom and actually any mom considering breastfeeding. It has the science behind breastfeeding well beyond just "breast is best." It explains the tricks and techniques formula companies use to get new customers, including enlisting doctors' help via free samples, office artwork, etc. (Criminal, in my opinion, since at the expense of babies' optimal health!) But even more i…

The DayAfter

This wasn't what anyone expected, and certainly not the post I want to be writing.

Telling Jane that Hillary lost was a hard thing to do. She took it better than I expected, probably because she's five and it doesn't really mean anything to her.

But it meant a lot to me.

And someday it will to her too.

Because a vote for him was a vote for misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia and hate.

I honestly don't know how I'm going to face people knowing their support for the president elect and delight in his election when his policies are in direct opposition of my daughters' best interests.

I am hurting today, like so many others.

I am afraid for the future, but there's not as big a risk to me, being a white woman married to a white man with a professional career. But I am even more afraid for others whom the president elect has threatened with his rhetoric.

Today I got to work with the new communications director at church to film our pastor -- he did a new welco…

On Five and a Historic Vote

Jane is five today - hip, hip hooray!

This always feels like a free space for NaBloPoMo. I can write about Jane's quirks -- stubborn as anyone I've ever met, strong and fierce, smart and beautiful -- and funny expressions -- "can you take me a bath?" (instead of give me a bath). I love her deep to my bones. She can push my buttons like no one else can, but she's also someone I feel happy to help even in the middle of the night when tummy aches strike after too much cake and too much bouncing at her birthday party!

Jane is my treasure!

Today is also election day, and there's plenty to say about that too!

We made our plan and got up early to go to the polls. We've never hard very long lines at our polling place. I'm not sure if that's white privilege, suburban privilege or just dumb luck. We vote at the local elementary school (where NONE of the local children actually attend, but that's another post).

I wore a pantsuit, of sorts. I don't ow…

Accepting Help (My bags are heavy.)

I carry too much.

On Sundays I carry a diaper bag, a Sunday school bag for me, a Sunday school bag for Jane and her church backpack full of stuff for her to look at/use during worship (although we've been having her carry it on the way home I usually have it in my hands). On the first Sundays of the month I'm also carrying a tote bag of groceries to donate to The Shepherd's Market food pantry. If I'm helping with video I carry the church's Mac laptop in another bag too. And of course carrying/wearing the baby, although Shawn handles that when he's with me.

People usually ask me if I want help, especially if Shawn isn't with me. My answer is an automatic, "I got it, thanks."

Because I do.

But sometimes help would be welcome. Help is needed. The bags are too heavy.

This is true for my metaphorical bags. They are heavy.

I'd like to get a hair cut, but arranging child care with an appointment has been tricky, and after one attempt I gave up.

I h…

So Tired. So Embarrassed.

Humiliating incident, and it hasn't actually happened yet (because she won't read her email until tomorrow).

I got an auto email from the secretary at Jane's school about the bill. She sent it to the whole school but it was personalized with the attachment specific to us. The formatting was bad and I replied, meaning to just send it to Shawn, with some snark about the formatting (basically "should I critique the formatting, which is bad? Not my circus or just LET IT BURN"). I realized it SECONDS after hitting send, but I hadn't *yet* turned on the unsend feature for gmail. I quickly googled and set it up, but not in time to make it work.


Well, I quickly replied again and apologized, asking her to disregard it and how embarrassed I am.

Maybe she won't even reply, because the last couple times I've emailed the school it's been a black hole. Somehow I doubt that will be true with this snark.

GOOD GRIEF. I shouldn't even …

Survived the Party

We survived Jane's fifth birthday party. We have only had small parties in previous years, and this was the first time we invited her whole class. I didn't get RSVPs from most kids, but six families came (some with siblings) and a couple friends we know from other places. So we had about 18 kids and at least that many grown ups.

We ate about half the cake, and only a few cupcakes were eaten. I was surprised that some of the kids really did say they didn't like chocolate!

Jane got some nice presents, but about three of them didn't have "from" tags on them, and she started opening them after some people had already left. Ugh. I am very into Thank You notes, so it's going to be difficult. I don't think everyone brought a present, which is perfectly fine, but I won't know who to thank and for the people who didn't put their name I'll have to say "thanks for coming to my party" instead. Them's the breaks.

My feet hurt so bad, eve…

A Baker I am NOT

My sister has a cake decorating business on the side. This is decidedly NOT in my skill set.

When I looked at buying Jane's birthday cake I balked at the price -- about $70 for a cake from a nice bakery that would have enough to feed as many people that *might* come. (That's another issue -- I'm getting RSVPs today for a party that's tomorrow!) This is the first year we've invited her entire class, so we have the potential for a few dozen people in our backyard. (Thank God for gorgeous weather!)

Anyway, I decided "I can do that" and planned to make the cake myself. I did do a test cake, and I picked the Pioneer Woman's "best chocolate sheet cake ever" because I wanted something to feed a crowd. I also bought a sheet pan to make it in! The cake was delicious, and my Sunday school class agreed. But it was thin and didn't seem very BIRTHDAY-y to me.

So my plan was to bake the cake twice and stack it up, using the fudgy frosting from the rec…

Book: Bad Feminism

I read this book last month, but I keep thinking about it and wanted to record the things I highlighted.

When I read the title I start singing "Bad Medicine" in my head, but of course with Feminism.

I loved most of this book, and the parts that weren't my favorites were just because I'd never read or heard of the material she was talking about so it was less relevant to me. (I am not an English Lit person, so while I'm fairly well read I am not as well read as the author!)

From my Kindle Notebook, which I learned about with this book. I can highlight things in an ebook (even a library ebook) and then export and email the notebook with the highlights.

"The notion that I should be fine with the status quo even if I am not wholly affected by the status quo is repulsive"
"To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged. Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult, but it is really all that is expected. Wha…

Costume: Cabbage Patch Kid

For Liv's first Halloween I dressed her up as a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I don't remember how or why I saw the idea, but it combines crochet with nostalgia so sign me up!

I started by crocheting the Cabbage Patch Kid hat/wig, which was pretty easy and a riff on a regular baby hat (of which I've made so many I can nearly do it in my sleep). I learned a new stitch following this pattern and its video. But instead of making the whole hat with that stitch I just did the brim area. I did braids instead of big puffy pony tails. I may be remembering wrong, but I think my Cabbage Patch doll (Justine?) had braids. She definitely had this dark brown hair.

For the stroller box I had intended to use a more square box, but it ended up being too small. Shawn had ordered some baby gates that came in a box that ended up working out perfectly. "Real" Cabbage Patch doll boxes have clear cellophane across the top, but this one is cut out in the back and front with an opening for th…

Vote for Hillary Clinton on Jane's Fifth Birthday!

Vote For Hillary Clinton from Mari W. on Vimeo.

One week until my baby is five.

One week until we elect our first woman president.


(Time has been passing so slowly in the anticipation of these two things!)

Jane's party is this weekend, so this week I have a ton of things to do for the party. We're having everyone come over to our house and got a bouncy castle thing. It's the first year we're inviting her entire class, and we don't have many RSVPs. The responses we do have will make a nice party, but I'm anxious about having enough food if more people do show up ...

Edit to add: OMG, it is NaBloPoMo! I almost forgot!!!