Teacher Gift: Crochet Coffee Cozies

I made two coffee cozies for Jane's teachers at school. Originally I was going to give bigger Target gift cards, but then the room mom asked for donations for a big group gift card, so I put that money toward that and whipped up these to give with smaller CC's Coffee gift cards. I slipped them into cardboard CC's coffee sleeves and added "Thanks a Latte" (I love a good pun, and that's a good one, right?)

The snowflake cozy is the same style as the sister squad hats I just made -- front post double crochet. So it's super thick and plushy. It took me FOREVER to get the snowflake pattern right because I kept screwing up. This was done with a graph I found online for a simple snowflake, so basically a new pattern. Once I got the hang of it and switching colors it went OK. I love the look of it.

The star cozy is a quick pattern from I'm Frayed Not that makes a very stretchy cozy. I added the crab stitch/reverse single crochet in white at the top and bottom to lend a Christmassy look. The star was a One Dog Woof ornament pattern that I did very fast this morning to sew on -- next to the snowflake one a plain red cozy didn't look special enough.

With an empty coffee cup that I used to be sure the sleeves could go on and off easily (imagining the cups full and hot!).

Sister Squad Hats

Crocheted hats using the same pattern as these. Free pattern from My Hobby is Crochet.
Playing "puppies" while wearing their new hats
New mug from Target -- don't need it. Wanted it. Bought it. (Should save it for my stocking...)

Out of Place

We've lost a library book. I am about 75% sure that I returned it to the library, but they can't find it. And I can't find it anywhere in the house. It's a big book, so not one that could slip inside another one (we check out tiny paperbacks sometimes that I fear will get lost that way). This is the third time this has happened, and every other time it's been on the shelf at the library. Not this time (so far). The search continues. It's Jane's card so no late fees, but I could just renew it I guess and do that indefinitely? I don't know. Aggravating. I can always throw money at the problem and just pay for the book. It may come to that. Need to do the sweep a few more times though.

Something even more aggravating is the fact that Jane was left out of a Kindergarten-wide girl party. All the girls in her grade were invited to a cookie swap or cookie decorating party. Two girls were left off, supposedly accidentally, and Jane is one of them. It's apparently a tradition and each grade does a separate girl-boy party around Christmas.

The organizing mom, a woman I've felt the side eye from (and given to), said they sent home invites in their backpacks (nope) -- and suggested Jane threw it away (double nope) and that they emailed everyone, but they may not have had my address since teachers won't give out full class list emails. NOPE, as I've emailed this mom directly, inviting her kid to Jane's birthday party (to which she didn't respond -- and I sent TWO invitations in hard copy, since I had to change things at the last minute) AND I've met this mom a couple times -- once saw her in the orthopedic center and we spoke to each other. She knows Jane and we're in her actual class, so this feels like more than an "accidental" oversight.

BUT I'm sure it was. We're not thought of any more than a speck of dust to these people. At least it feels that way. Certainly feel out of place, although Jane holds her own with her classmates, is loved by her teachers.

I am fuming STILL, 24 hours later. Only found out about it because of Facebook, and I've lost too much sleep about it.

That Old Habit?

The world is burning, and the tax bill is going to break us all. (Handwritten edits?! In a 500 page PDF?! To be voted on in mere hours?!)

But here are some things:

Jane's Kindergarten class has a Christmas tree. I'm surprised they used that verbiage, but that's what it's called. They asked every family to make an ornament to hang on it -- something that represents the family and their traditions. I thought and came up with this -- our hands creating a tree that Jane could draw on and add stickers to show things that are our Christmas traditions. Originally I thought of hobbies too -- like a skein of yarn picture from one of my yarn catalogs, some woodworking contraption from one of Shawn's catalogues, etc. But Jane didn't want to wait to take it in and wasn't really interested in that either. She didn't want photos of us (I was thinking small, as if they were ornaments on the tree), so this is it. There are books because we do the Advent book-a-day tradition, plus a candle, Baby Jesus, an angel, etc. I'm not sure what all Jane drew. The ornament is big, since our hands are real-size, and I figured TOO big -- I had to send it in her backpack in three folders put together with binder clips so it wouldn't get banged up too badly. Jane said the teacher said it was perfect, so I guess the tree is big enough to hold it.

My question -- what if a family doesn't celebrate Christmas? 

I never got my free Starbucks birthday drink that I normally get via the app. Perhaps it's because I do this with the stars that come off the bags of coffee I buy instead of inputting them in the Starbucks system? CURSES!

A completed crochet doll dress, front and back. It's not exactly like the pattern, which I got from a book. I had to make up my own top using the suggested stitch. I followed the top's pattern but got this weird almost E-shaped piece and the next direction was "sew shoulder seams" without an explanation as to what the seams were. Maybe I am a visual learner, because a picture could have really helped. Instead I just started my own top right into the skirt part. It worked out fine, although could have been better fitted. I didn't do great on the starting chains, so put a Christmas ribbon around her waist for the pictures. If we can find a solid purple ribbon to sew onto it that would be good. The buttons were $2 from Walmart, but otherwise the cost was nil. I used Gran's thread, which is why the colors are kind of weird. The original pattern had three sets of four ruffles in the skirt in shades of blue, but the designer crochets tighter than me, because it would have made my skirt too long. I could have stopped at the dark purple, but didn't realize it until after I'd done the pink. Oh well. It's fine as it is. I should take better pictures for my Ravelry page. These were fast on my phone because Liv was on the move. She's been a terror -- broken three or four Christmas things, and we haven't even had the Xmas stuff out for a week yet!


Perhaps my final NaBloPoMo post ever. This month has been exceedingly difficult. I'm not getting much pleasure out of anything right now, so why should blogging be any different?

I have a few crochet projects to get on -- one is almost finished -- so those will be upcoming posts. Our family is taking a pretty big adventure in January, but I'm not sure if I'll write about it in real time or after it's over. Something to consider.

Enjoy your December.

Recent Thoughts - A Hodgepodge

I've subscribed to the Lenny Letter since its inception. I'm older than the target audience, but there are some good reads, and I like everything is by women and for women. Not a huge Lena Dunham fan, and she keeps having missteps with the media and just being plain wrong about things. This week I read this article Women Are Supposed to Give Until They Die. The author talks about how we're taught to believe men need more alone time than women (fathers vs. mothers is really what she's getting at). I found it pretty weird, as a woman, as a mom and someone who needs more alone time. But I also really identify with her points about getting and taking that alone time away from home and allowing the relationship between dad and kids to develop without mom/my interference.

I check Facebook WAY too often -- just as a default I'm bored, or I have five minutes or let's see what people are posting. (I also look at Twitter, and it mainly serves to make me really mad about what's happening in the world and hate all the people I follow on Facebook -- so that's a fun twist?) Anyway, on Facebook I keep typing and deleting "funny" comments. Just personable stuff. For example, a friend posted on another friend's question about Santa/stockings about what she puts in her kid's stockings. And she listed chocolate as a "necessity" -- like "I put necessities: toothpaste, socks, chocolate, etc." And I laughed and commented how funny that was. Then I deleted it instead of posting. The world is on fire, and why do I need to be funny or relational with people?

On that same post I have opinions of my own -- like we don't "do" Santa at all ... which reminds me I really need to tell Jane's teacher about that, although Jane says she wants to pretend he's real and won't say anything to the other kids at all ... and I have tried the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" thing that was the original poster's main question. But in the same vein, who cares what I think? (Those two links are old blog posts where I write about that exact thing, so it's clear I think *someone* cares ... just not people who actually know me?!) I am the weirdest, I know.

I do a lot of computing on my Kindle -- reading Facebook, Twitter, Feedly, etc. I haven't been reading books as much lately, but that's another story. One thing that's driving me crazy if the Kindle keyboard. I have a Fire HDX 8, which I got for Christmas last year, so it's a 2016 model. The keyboard works fine EXCEPT when I put "t" it will often, like 9 times out of 10, switch to the numeral keyboard, so it types a 5 and then if I just keep touching letters it actually puts the numbers. AND it isn't smart enough to figure out "oh, she's touching keys that would make a word if they were letters" and I have to backspace, carefully hit the t and re-type everything. I've searched some and haven't found anyone else with this problem. So I don't know what to do about it. I looked at the Love My Fire site a bit, but it didn't really talk about that.

I cleaned my engagement ring this week. It was SO gross. It needs a professional cleaning, but even my at home efforts made a huge difference and it's sparkling again. There was so much gunk, oil and dirt underneath the stone I had to pick it out with a toothpick after I let the ring soak in warm, soapy water. I'm not a vain person, but seeing the shiny rock on my finger is a nice boost and makes me happy in a stupid, simple way.



I took Jane to the doctor this morning, and her cast was taken off. Everything looks good for her bone healing, and the doctor showed me the X-ray and all the places where her body has made new bone. It seems like a lot and is doing well.

She has a brace/splint type thing to wear and give her some security as she gets used to having the cast off. Her wrist is very stiff and she doesn't want to move it or really act like she can use her arm. She was more active with it when the cast was on!

We have a few exercises to do, and he said she will also just figure it out and get back to normal. The brace will be for about 4 more weeks, although she doesn't have to wear it all the time after this first week. I'm sure she'll be back to her old be-bopping self in no time.

One drag thing is that her skin was all irritated and kind of dirty. I'd assumed water proof cast meant it could get wet. We NEVER dipped it in water -- just didn't cover it up when she took a bath and the hand would get wet when she washed. They said we didn't let it drip dry enough, although I'm not sure what that means or how you do that other than let the thing hang out. I didn't press it. Should have stuck with the keep-it-dry method, as her skin was fine after the first cast was taken off to change to this one. I'm hoping some air and a little lotion will get it all back to normal. Poor bubs.

A Birthday

My birthday was fine. Just fine.

Sundays are my busiest days. I do a lot of work for the church during the work, but I'm doing stuff on Sundays and get the sweats worrying about it all working. And just juggling kids and everything too.

Livia is/was sick so she and Shawn stayed home. It was just me and Jane. She was fine during church and Sunday school (plus the extra children's choir 10-minute rehearsal). We met Shawn and Livia for lunch at the newly opened Mexican restaurant on the way home. It was tasty food but terrible service. Like really insulting guy. Not sure why ... or why it had to be that way on my birthday lunch.

Livia wouldn't nap so I had to hold her the whole nap. Then I started on my afternoon computer church work. I had a church meeting at 4, which interrupted my day's flow. And I hadn't been grocery shopping yet over the weekend because of going to a birthday movie on Saturday night. (I liked that, even though it was hard schedule-wise).

Before I left for the church meeting Jane and I had a weird, huge fight. Sucked the fun out of the whole day. I ate a piece of the cheesecake I had made on my way out the door, although they sang and ate some themselves after I was home.

I got to talk to my mom in the evening, which was good.

Today I took Liv to the doctor -- she has an ear infection in the right ear. The third one she's had. Doctor said if she gets five in one year it's a problem that will need a different solution (I'm guessing tubes in the ear). Gotta go google "prevent ear infections" ...

Unboxing Day

We brought in the Christmas tree last night. Shawn got it set up, as well as Candy Cane Lane, which is what we call the candy cane-shaped lights lining a part of our walk way toward our front door. Today I got a wreath from Trader Joe's and put that on the front door. We got a few girl-specific things out of the boxes, which are now sitting in the sun room by the back door. The felt Christmas tree, the Little People nativity set, a musical book are out and being played with.

But there's a lot more to do.

Unfortunately I don't have the Christmas cheer or spirit or will to do it just yet.

I'll get there -- for the girls, for Shawn, for my family if they make it for Christmas, for myself -- eventually.

But I sure wish my sense of anticipation didn't feel like a sense of foreboding.

Maybe I'm just exhausted and out of sorts from a broken night of sleep (Livia has a cold so was up half the night and would only sleep while nursing), from a week's visit from my in-laws, from a wanna-be teenager six-year-old with more sass than I can handle, from a million other tiny little cuts that combine to make me feel like I'm bleeding out...

Hope your holiday unboxing goes better than mine.

Parking Ticket

Today we went to New Orleans -- my inlaws wanted to go to the WWII museum, and the girls are always up for a kids museum, which is just a couple blocks away. We had to drive separately, so I took the girls directly to the kids museum, and we met up for a $$$ lunch.

I parked on the street in front of the kids museum instead of in the garage for the WWII museum, mainly for convenience. Although in hindsight it was nothing but convenient (and would have been cheaper either way to just pay the $10 for garage parking)!

I paid at the meter and put my parking stub in the window on the dash board. When we got back to the car, exactly two hours later there was a ticket. I was incensed! Then I looked and it had been issued an hour earlier -- so halfway through my paid parking time. The meter reader hadn't seen my stub! I went ahead and paid for the next two hours I needed to go eat lunch, and my new stub was much bigger. That makes sense why the officer didn't see the smaller, square stub if he's always looking for a big rectangle. But DAMN!

The ticket is $30, so not life threatening if I end up having to pay it (although I could have parked four times over in the garage given what I did pay for street parking -- $12). But it's the principle of the thing, since I DID in fact pay for parking.

There's a way to contest it online, but I want to send my credit card statement too. I scanned the ticket showing I did pay. Will get everything in order, uploaded and contested. Hopefully I can have a resolution next week or so -- not sure how long these things take. The hearing is December 20, so there's a bit of time.

UGH! Aggravating.


I have trouble being grateful. In fact I'd say I'm an ungrateful ***** a lot of times. But I also recognize my great privilege and wealth, and a ridiculously easy life, all things considered. So, a partial set of my blessings, for which I am thankful:
  • Jesus and salvation, the Church and my church
  • My beautiful, lovely, funny, smart Jane Pie
  • My precious, gorgeous, clever, snuggly Livia Baby
  • My husband and our marriage
  • Medical care
  • Healing bones
  • Climate control -- air conditioning 90% of the year and heat the other 10%!
  • Hot water and indoor plumbing
  • Warm bed
  • Tenure and Shawn's satisfying career that provides for us so well
  • Tasty food and the ability to prepare it
  • Dishwashers and other modern-day appliances
Wishing you a pleasant holiday weekend, and this video about Thanksgiving's establishment as a holiday:

Pre-Holiday Preparation

Today was a cooking day for me, with the girls getting to go with Daddy and grandparents to the Knock, Knock Museum. They had a great time, and I got everything done. Our dishwasher is getting a workout! Today I made:
  • Deviled eggs (these are ridiculously hard because of the shelling -- I cannot do it well to save my life)
  • Cranberry salad
  • Pumpkin pies (one regular, one sugar free)
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (debating putting marshmallows or pecans or both on top when I bake tomorrow)
  • Cornbread dressing, Gran's recipe
Tomorrow I have to make
  • Turkey - going to inject and roast it ... this is Aunt B's best tip
  • Cook the dressing and sweet potatoes
  • Corn casserole
  • Green bean casserole
  • Warm rolls
  • Boil and mash potatoes
  • Heat gravy
  • Whip cream
What am I forgetting? Hopefully pictures tomorrow, although you could look at years' past to see the same dishes.

I'm going to try to take Christmas card photos of the girls tomorrow in matching sweaters. The light's actually pretty good right now in the back yard, but I don't have it together to get it done. There's a sale on Amazon cards ... 50% off and it includes free envelope personalization and printing on both sides of the card ... through November 25, so Saturday. Surely I can get it done by then.

A Photo Wall of Babies

I extended my wall of photos in the hall across from Jane's room. When Jane was 1 I made the photo canvases of her -- basically printed 12x12 prints and modge podged them onto canvases. Also glued strips of scrapbook paper to the sides then dabbed black paint around the edges. Some of the photos look better than others, and we've loved the Jane ones for 5 years now. They were hanging in a straight line on this wall that whole time.

I finally got around to making Livia's versions. Hers are mostly form her first year too, although I think the photo in the graduation cap might be just after 1 year old. Jane's are ordered from youngest to oldest left to right, and Livia's are ordered oldest to youngest left to right.

We mount them with 3M Velcro removable strips and they hold just fine, and allow for a little adjustments if they're not perfectly straight. AND we can switch the order of photos later if we want.

(I thought for sure I'd blogged about this when I made Jane's, but I can't find a post so maybe not. I'm not even sure what online tutorial I used to make them the first time. For Liv's I just winged it.)


People ask me about Jane's school, and I have different answers for different types of people.

Some people I know are very into private school, and they would get a positive, we love most everything about it and Jane's teacher answer.

Other people I know are not as enthused about exclusivity, so I'd give a more nuanced answer, talking about how we're not sure if we fit in or if we want to.

Both are technically true -- we especially love her teachers, but we don't mesh fully with the culture so far and certainly feel out of place. JANE doesn't feel out of place though, which is a good thing.

I think this is true for anything I experience -- I change my story to fit my audience. Is there any authenticity? Am I being just a people pleaser? Although really who do I please with this particular example? Who cares?

Livia Did It

At a kids' birthday party today a dad understood Livia's name and told me about a podcast that once made a T-shirt called "Livia Did It" and how it's still a catch phrase in his current podcast. After some searching I found the podcast, but it seems the T-shirt was a one-off fundraiser in 2014. Darn, since that's a pretty cool shirt.


I'm not usually productive, at least that's how it feels lately. But today I got a lot done by, at least by my standards.

Woke up and immediately started cleaning, since we're expecting company on Monday. Vacuumed, did some dusting and cleaned bathrooms while the girls played outside (they both really hate the vacuum, and I do too, but it's OK when I put on music and headphones). Also started the laundry, which is the typical Saturday thing for us.

I voted (ugh...no good choices).

Went to Target to buy a birthday gift since Amazon failed me and didn't deliver the package on time (hope to be able to return it, or just save it for another kid on another day). I saw Jane's first preschool teacher, but she didn't recognize me without kids. I still said hello. She was with her daughter, who's grown up a lot!

Stopped in Walmart quickly to buy conditioner -- I'd bought two shampoos and no conditioner earlier this week. Target didn't have the kind I wanted (a special edition "frosted cookie" set). I bought two conditioners, thinking that I'll either have two sets in case I really like it OR a set to give to my sister if it's only so-so.

Went to Trader Joe's to buy the turkey and some groceries (on second thought I should get my turkey at the store ... I don't cook it that well, and TJ only has HUGE ones ... 12 lb was the smallest ... and it's something that's actually MORE expensive than the grocery store -- TOO LATE NOW, as Jane would say).

Then went to Winn Dixie for the BIG grocery shop. Food for the week with guests and for the big dinner on Thursday -- oh, the menu is another freebie NaBloPoMo post spot. Shawn helped keep the laundry going and the girls in check. Laundry is *almost* done.

I'm pretty tired. Still have dinner to do (and frankly after buying so much food I don't feel like cooking at all!). In my meal planning I didn't account for today (or tomorrow!), so I guess we'll wing it with quesadillas or grilled cheese.

Touch Type

Typing on my Kindle because I shut down my computer already. This has really become the hardest NaBloPoMo. I am lazy and tired. Uninspired.

My baby is a handful and still not sleeping all night. My six year old is temperamental and mouthy. Her arm is still broken.

My house is messy and cluttered. So is my mind, I guess.

Need to work on my grocery list. Start gift lists.

Drink some wine or tea. I found Lady Grey in the supermarket. I buy groceries. I don't "make" them. I'm not really from here, you know...

Maybe something better tomorrow...


Ordered a "free" calendar on Shutterfly today -- one of those "just pay shipping" deals. It was about $9 with shipping and tax (because of course we pay tax on the shipping!). Not bad for a custom photo calendar, although I had to make it twice. When I clicked through the ad it automatically made a 12x12 calendar, and I didn't realize the size or that it wasn't part of the promotion. And of course there's no easy way to change the size and I had to start over from scratch. At least I had my photos picked out and uploaded already, but what a waste of work. I like to give wall calendars as gifts too, so I'll watch for other sales as we roll closer to Christmas.

I can't believe we are ONE WEEK from Thanksgiving. It's come so fast. In one week I have to make a full dinner for my family and in-laws. It will be fine, but I haven't even begun to think. We also need to clean house again (unfortunately the clean from Jane's party didn't "stick" and things are back to usual clutter and such).

I asked Jane what she wanted for Thanksgiving dinner and she said "scrambled eggs." I asked her again "WHAT?!" It took me a little bit to realize she meant DEVILED eggs. My heart, my heart, my heart. I love her. I hope she knows how much, especially in our challenging moments.

What's the Point - A New Cast

I really can't believe I didn't blog on November 13. TEN YEARS of blogging every day of November... I sat a lot at my desk that day too, so it wasn't lack of opportunity. I just never opened the window, and I hadn't written it down on my Bullet Journal, which is still a ragtag effort.

Today I had a time warp. We had an appointment with the orthopedic doctor. He was actually in surgery, so they'd called me yesterday when his schedule changed to ask if we could come earlier and just see the PA. No problem, as this was just an X-ray and check to confirm the arm was still healing. I expected to be in and out faster than normal and get Jane to school before lunch (which for her is 10:30 am!)

After the X-ray we're finally called back and the PA tells us that the bone has shifted so we need to see a doctor today. Our care is being transferred to the pediatric orthopedic clinic (frankly it probably should have been transferred there in the first place, although the adult orthopedic doctor was great in the ER he's a doctor for adults, and a foot/ankle specialist at that).

So I'm panicking as we go downstairs, because the doctor told us before if her bone shifts we'd need to reset it, and to do that it's another sedation procedure, which we surely don't want. And then I start thinking what if it's SURGERY and needs to have a pin put in so that it will stay in place while it heals? And will a pin have to stay in forever? What will that mean for future air travel. She's SIX! And spinning out of control, crying a bit while waiting with her in the kid-friendly waiting room.

A half hour later, called back to the exam room. I'm not so nice to the receptionist when she asks me to fill out a form when we'd been waiting for a while already. Then we wait another ~20 minutes, at least, before the doctor comes in. He says it's no big deal, she's healing great and adult doctors are overly cautious with kids. He said it's within the range of normal and that the X-rays were taken at slightly different angles so it's not actually as bad as the PA read it.

He offers a new cast if Jane wants one that's smaller and more comfortable, even though she'll only need to wear this one for another week. (!!! As I was thinking we'd be casted for a full eight weeks, and this would put us at about 4 total.) She wanted, so we did, and I ponied up the $25 for waterproof, even though keeping the bigger, thicker one dry wasn't so bad, the ability to wash her hands regularly is a big selling point. Plus we're going to keep it on until after Thanksgiving, so it's really nearly 2 weeks of value. Happy Birthday to me.

A tie dyed cast (looks more camo on the roll) -- and you can see an ant bite still healing on her pinkie.
Princess place mat by Aunt B

Facebook Black & White Photo Challenge

A friend tagged me on Facebook to the black & white photo challenge -- post one black and white photo per day for seven days. No people. No explanations. I was supposed to tag someone every day to challenge them. I didn't do that though -- REBEL! On the last day I did say anyone who hasn't done the challenge but wants to should consider themselves tagged by me. We'll see if anyone starts doing it. I feel like there's some ulterior motive here -- like whatever entity started this is getting something out of it. (???)

Anyway this is another easy NaBloPoMo post for me, just collecting those seven photos (and adding the explanations I didn't put on FB, as per the rules!). I really liked taking photos of objects, although some I took didn't always look good in black and white.

The text explains this one. Jane's sixth birthday cake!

Broom and leaves -- so many leaves have fallen. Liv was holding the broom off camera.

Books to read.

My girls' tennis shoes.

Tickets to the basketball game that Jane and I went to together.

A sandwich for lunch.

Target bags

A Jumbo Tron

Almost forgot to blog today. I am so tired. Sundays are my hardest days -- church sucks up time and energy. Afterward I took Jane to a women's basketball game at LSU. She had to be DRAGGED to go, although it ended up being fun for her (I let her get Dippin Dots!). Tickets are affordable. Concessions are not!

They got a new jumbo-tron, and it's the largest video screen in college basketball, according to the program at least. Good grief it's massive. Jane got on it 3 times because she's so cute! (There weren't THAT many people there, and they put people on more often if they're dancing/hamming it up, which she and I did while waving a pom pom and her giant foam tiger paw.)

Good Mama-Jane outing.

Android Auto

We drive a CRV, and it doesn't have a CD player. This is a problem with kids because we like to listen to music without ads, and I'm not willing to pay for Sirius XM. There are a couple ways to connect to the car's audio system with the phone, but no "line in" like our Accord has for plugging in a phone to the speakers. The options are Bluetooth and the Android Auto app while connected via USB.

Bluetooth works fine when it works. It automatically connects and starts playing (although it favors Google Play, and if you stop the car playing an Overdrive audio book you have to navigate back to it when you start the car again, which is annoying). But sometimes Bluetooth doesn't work and there's skipping and stuttering in the playback. We cannot abide by this -- it makes listening to audio books excruciating, and we've been listening to a lot of Junie B. Jones audio books checked out from the library.

When that started happening regularly I started to look for another solution. I looked on the Honda website and watched some tutorial videos. The Android Audio app seemed like a good solution (and it's also the only other option!).

It has not worked that great for me so far.

I downloaded the app, although it's pretty slow and hard to use. I have to run most apps off the SD card in my phone because I have such little memory. But this app won't run on an SD card, so it's sluggishness can't be attributed to that. (Some of the apps that try to run from SD just won't work properly and are beyond frustrating to use ... but I digress.)

The app will start automatically, but for whatever reason half the time I get "incompatible device" or "no device connected" messages when the phone is plugged in properly to the correct USB port. My cable is new. If I do manage to get it playing I can't touch the phone or it will disconnect. The playback is fine; we have no skipping issues, but the ordeal to get connected and make it work sometimes takes as long as wherever we're driving.

And it is NOT safe for me to be fiddling with the phone when all I want to do is hear the next chapter of the book we're listening to -- or Itsy Bitsy Spider for the one thousandth time ... that's Liv's jam as of late. Even when I can get it connected the phone is slow and will lag as I try to navigate. And if I do need to look at my phone (say for a text that came in before driving) I can't get to what I need to get to, even if the car is stopped.

When driving and the phone is connected by Bluetooth the car will read text messages received. But it won't do it via Android Auto because it needs a data connection to access Google voice. So not having that feature is aggravating (not that I get that many texts, but some).

For now we're back to Bluetooth because it's less dangerous and kind of automatic. I still have to fiddle with the phone to find Junie B, but it's more straightforward than getting the app open, navigating to the app within the app and playing.

Would a better phone work more easily? I know Apple devices are compatible and easy to use (although I don't know anyone with an iPhone, no data and a CRV). I'm not likely to have a data package any time soon regardless of the phone ... although would data access make it work? I don't know because it isn't easy to connect even when sitting in my driveway with WiFi. I've had my phone for just over two years, and it wasn't a new model when I got it.

Another aggravation turned NaBloPoMo fodder...

Crochet Goals

I used to crochet like a maniac. I could whip out hats and baby blankets like nobody's business.

I haven't been crocheting at all over the last year.

Feeling demoralized politically and philosophically takes away my drive to create? I also am stuck on a project for Jane -- it's thread and a dress for a doll, originally for a bear but now she has a doll that will fit it so I bet it will be for her now.

But I have a list of things I want to make -- a new baby cousin coming (in like 3 weeks) who has nothing handmade from me, girls who will be in cold weather soon who can use some cute new matching sister hats.

But my hooks still lay still.

We don't have cable TV anymore, and both girls' routines usually take us until 8, which reduces the amount of sitting time I have and the time I'm inspired to sit in front of the TV. I can definitely find time to crochet during the day, but I haven't.

I'm not sure what else I've been doing because I'm not reading as much as usual either. My Goodreads goal probably won't be met this year. And I can read fast. But not fast enough to catch up by the end of the year I think.

The Little Mermaid Jr.

Back in August Jane tried out for the elementary school musical, The Little Mermaid, Jr. She didn't make it -- there were 180+ try outs for about 70 spots, most of which are NOT for Kindergarteners of course. So we don't feel too bad.

Tonight was opening night, and since the Sunday afternoon tickets were sold out by the time I went to buy ours (within hours of the email that they were on sale!) Thursday was the only night left. (Two performances only.) Daddy and Liv stayed home (and he got her to sleep without me!), so it was a Mama and Jane date.

The tickets said 6 p.m., but everything else I'd seen -- info from the class, the actual email -- said 6:30 p.m., so that's what I had in my head. I checked the tickets at about 5 p.m. as I was making dinner. YIKES!

We quick ate our supper and hit the road. Turns out 6:30 is correct, but there was a line out the door. They opened the doors at about 5:45, and thankfully we were able to find pretty good seats, since we only needed two together. I saw some empty seats, even though they said they were sold out. Probably some people stood or sat on the floor rather than sit near the wall?

The costumes and sets were incredible. The acting and singing and dancing were good for their ages. I really liked the lead actress. We've seen her before in Junie B. Jones at BR Playmakers, and it has started our love affair with the audio books. Seriously Jane listens to them as much as possible, and I like them too for the most part. But that's another story... When the music teacher/director spoke before the play I was afraid it was going to be super-high quality, but it was just a good elementary-school play with mainly 4th and 5th graders.

I did feel bad for the Ariel girl, since her costume was not flattering and the wig was a wild, cheap looking thing. Ursula looked AWESOME, although I didn't love the fat suit/donut tire they had around her waist. Ariel had a better voice and memory though. It was clear why she was chosen lead. Sebastian was funny, but I'm not sure how appropriate it is to have a little blonde kid doing a Jamaican accent? Am I too sensitive?!

One of Jane's classmates was in the play (as a fish and princess in the big song numbers), so she really wanted to stay and see her. But it was 8 p.m. when we finally left. Bedtime is normally 7:30/8, and we had to take a bath tonight (I couldn't get it together to get her clean before we left -- she had a lot of birthday present playing and coloring to do!).

When we did get home, with Liv still asleep, Jane was WILD. Staying up late does NOT agree with her. She ran -- in her socks on tile, which is so stressful as one bad fall and we'd be back in the ER for a re-set of her arm -- and hid and acted crazy. It took about 45 minutes to get her calm, bathed, dressed, teeth brushed and in bed. I hope she gets a good night sleep.

Jane said tomorrow her class is going to get to see the play. I don't see how that's possible -- it's a 2 hour show, and surely they won't shut down the whole elementary school ... plus I'm not sure they can fit them all in that auditorium? But if it is true I wish they'd told us, since I wouldn't have taken her if I knew she could see it in class. BUT I remembered that tomorrow she has another appointment for her cast X-rays. I really hope while she's out that she doesn't miss the play ... or whatever it is related to that she'd get to see.

A Sixth Birthday

A second birthday cake for a six-year-old girl. This one I bought from Ambrosia Bakery. I got white icing because it looks prettier with the pink, but the cake itself was chocolate with chocolate buttercream inside. It was also THICKLY iced. Like, THICK to the point of tasting too much and too sweet. Jane ate some, and Liv ate some cake itself. Cake is probably her new favorite word. Jane would NEVER have eaten cake when she was 19 months old. Perish the thought. Things change I guess.

I had a great time going to Jane's class and reading Twinderella -- a "fractioned" fairy tail because it was a re-telling of a fairy tale and this one used fractions -- halves, quarters, doubles. The teacher said it was her best reader yet, mainly because of how well the book fit into their unit. We had checked it out of the library by chance from the new books section. I also got to eat lunch with Jane, and that was fun. Daddy stayed home with Liv. He took her to her library story time so she didn't have to miss that. Sweet potato!

This afternoon I was going to take Jane shopping for a new lamp, but she decided she'd rather go home and open her presents. She's got a ton of great things from family and us. My absolute favorite was when she opened the Target Our Generation doll (a knock-off style of American Girl Dolls) she jumped up and said "thank you, thank you, thank you, Mommy" and came and tackled me in a huge hug and let me snuggle her for a long time. I think I'm going to have some fun crocheting clothes for her doll, which she named Indigo, and probably buying some matching Jane and Indigo outfits too.

Anyway, Jane said I could pick out her lamp on my own later, so I will. Only requirement is pink, her favorite color. We've re-arranged Jane's room to make for a side table and access to a lamp, tissue, trash can, water, etc. Still getting used to it, but it's a good set up.

Domestic posts don't make for good blog fodder, but someday I'll be glad for these ramblings, just like I'm grateful for the record of my weeks in email format.

Area 51 Reservation System Hack

Before Jane broke her arm we had planned to celebrate her sixth birthday at Area 51, a trampoline place. We've gone several times and she loves it. Shawn likes it too. We had to rearrange the party at the last minute, and thankfully Area 51 gave us a refund, but I worked out a "hack" for using their RSVP system.

It's a little weird how it's set up. You can have electronic invitations, but they are really weird looking, and it requires you have an email address for everyone. It gives you the option to print them, but when you do that you can't use the online RSVP system, which automatically gives a link to download the required waiver. I looked for the link, thinking it was the same for everyone, but it turns out the system creates an individual link for each person who's invited.

Clip art from Melonheadz Illustrating
I didn't have email addresses for all of Jane's classmates, so we had to print out invites. The Area 51 print system made them look quite janky, so we skipped that.

After a bit of thought I decided to print my own invites and use Bit.ly to shorten the individual links. Each girl had their own RSVP link (bit.ly/Janebday#). It actually worked! Except most parents didn't RSVP at all. One girl showed up without RSVP'ing and 5 out of 11 didn't show up and didn't RSVP. Not bad.

Of course we had to re-do the party at the last minute and re-send the invitations. I ended up emailing the entire class, since I couldn't get the girls' moms email addresses separated. I found a really cute free clip art of a girl with a broken arm and sent change-of-plan invites to the girls again in their folders at school.

Alls well that ends well, and it was a great party. I don't know if we'll ever do a party at Area 51. I'm too nervous about broken bones to think about anything like that again right now. Just want to wrap my girls in bubble wrap and keep them home in my lap!

A Calling

I do not have one that I can discern. Should I be worried?

Or does my calling to motherhood count?

I often feel like I'm spinning my wheels. There's no accomplishment in the daily grind, although it's certainly pleasing to see my girls grow.

Am I called to a writer life of some sort? Or general communications? What story am I called to tell? Or can I tell any story as I hustle for work? (Which I really haven't done in so long ... am I rusty?)

Am I too controlling? Want to be in charge or not do anything at all? Or too small? Not wanting to be responsible for anything other than tasks given me?

Pre-mid-life crisis I guess. Not really a crisis of course. Just thinking...

Trader Joe's flowers for Jane's birthday;

"Only" 9 p.m.

It's end of Daylight Savings Time. This is my preferred mode of time -- regular old time. Darker earlier is fine with me. Getting up in daylight seems a little easier. But man, I'm tired. Liv's clock hasn't re-set yet, and so neither has mine. Jane slept in a little, which is good for her and her healing bone. And it was easy peasy to get to church on time.

Here is Jane's Kookie Cookie painting in GIF form:

I went to a church meeting this evening -- an ongoing dialogue about race. That's when I heard about the Texas church shooting today. Thoughts and prayers aren't enough. But if we'll allow children to be slayed in their Kindergarten classroom and do nothing, I don't think worshipers at church -- actively praying at the time they were gunned down -- will change legislation or attitudes either. Disgusted and upset is an understatement. #FuckTheNRA

Sixth Party

Six balloons plus a SIX balloon.
A six-shaped cheese and fruit plate
Six balloons on our address post
We made it through Jane's sixth birthday party. I'm totally wiped out. The party was 3-5. A few girls were dropped off, and that was actually just fine. There was only one girl who came and hadn't RSVP'ed, and we had the space and canvas with the painters. All together there were 10 kids, including Jane. (11 if you count Liv, although she didn't paint of course.) I would have liked more access to help Jane with her painting, but it turned out cute anyway. The kids all had a good time, and the food and cake were good. We had a cheese and grapes plate, crackers, chocolate chip cookies, popcorn and the cake and ice cream. Plus waters and pink and regular lemonade. The kids played outside for a bit after the paintings were done. I haven't processed photos from my big camera, so maybe that will be my post for tomorrow. (I really get a few "freebie" spaces in NaBloPoMo with this being Jane and my birthday month.)

Day of Preparations

Today has been a busy day. Jane stayed home this morning, since we had an orthopedic surgeon appointment at 10 a.m. It was a LONG morning, but maybe easier than taking her to school, picking her up and hour and a half later? I don't know.

The appointment was OK, and Shawn stayed with the baby. I can take her with me next time now that I know what to expect. We have to go back and check weekly to make sure the bone is staying in place, which means weekly X-rays, ugh. The appointment felt rushed after waiting so long. I am totally freaking out about the whole thing, but what else is new. I'd like to ask a lot of questions. Maybe I'll just call and talk to a nurse about my worries next week.

Sixth birthday cake frosting procedure
In between that, mopping the floors and carpool I baked Jane's cake for her party tomorrow. (We're also buying a cake from Ambrosia Bakery for Heavenly Hash at church on her actual birthday.)

For her party Jane wanted a half chocolate-half vanilla cake. If we'd had the party at the trampoline place as planned I would have just bought the cake too, but in an effort to save money (the painting party is about the cost of a cake more than the trampoline party was), I decided to make it. Especially since it doesn't need to be transported!

The chocolate cake is DELICIOUS. I used the same Pioneer Woman best chocolate sheet cake recipe as last year, although I didn't do the fudgy frosting. I made a basic vanilla cake from the Internet, and that was a mistake. I should have found a Pioneer Woman one or some other trusted site. The cake is fine, but when you taste the chocolate it's sad in comparison. (I got to taste both because I didn't cut the cakes exactly evenly, so when I stacked the top layers were smaller than the bottom layers. So I sliced a bit out of the middle and smooshed the remaining cake together to make it even.)

I made my sister's/aunt's buttercream frosting that's basically Crisco and powdered sugar. You whip it for 10 minutes (in the Kitchen-Aid) so it's light and fluffy. I needed a recipe and a half, so a TON of frosting! The pink is sanding sugar that I got on 70% off after Valentine's Day this year at Target. I used cookie cutters, sprinkled the sugar in with a baby spoon (I had to freehand a bit for the inside of the A and the 6). And then I just sprinkled around the edge to get a little border.

By no means professional, and I can't do a crumb coat to save my life ... perhaps it's about that lack of patience?! But as long as Jane likes it it will be just fine!

My kingdom for a bigger kitchen!

Répondez s'il vous plaît

Jane's birthday party is this Saturday. We were originally going to have it at Area 51, a local trampoline place, but she broke her arm on Friday -- a drama I might write about in detail or might not -- so the jumping isn't such a great idea any more.

We were able to cancel with no penalty, and we have changed the party venue to our house. Painting & Pinot, a local studio that does kid birthday parties, will come and lead our guests in a painting. They bring everything -- tables, chairs, easels, smocks, paint, canvases, etc. It should be fun, and even though it means WAY more work for me -- I wasn't expecting to clean house! -- it will be less anxiety producing.

But what's really perplexing me is the lack of RSVP from the parents of girls in her class. We wavered on who to invite to the party -- we were limited to 15 kids at the trampoline party, and there are 11 other girls in her class. We could have easily invited friends from outside of the class, and we had two competing guests lists. In the end Jane wanted her school friends to come, so we invited the girls. (You can invite everyone -- all 26 kids -- or all girls/boys depending on the party kid's gender.)

About half of the girls have responded. I get waiting to the last minute for an in-house party. But people weren't responding when it was a trampoline party, which is a $$$ thing, and I'd have had to pay for 15 kids regardless of how many showed up. So I would have liked to have invited other kids to fill the spots if some of her classmates can't make it.

I mentioned this to someone in email, kind of as a joke, and she leapt to the defense. "As a busy working mom with a child in full-time care I don't RSVP until Wednesday or Thursday before. I just don't know how we want our weekends will be until then." (She's a friend who RSVP'ed right away/not a classmate, so it was weird on multiple levels.) So much for Southern politeness, right?!

As it is I'm not sure how many girls will show up. I will have to pay extra if there are more than 10 kids painting, but it's not too bad. I'll share some pictures after the fact, and hope that I can get the house together and make the cake (to save money I'm making it myself, whereas I planned to just buy it for the trampoline party since we'd have to transport it).

Into Kindergarten: Lunch Box Notes

Jane started Kindergarten in August. I did not have the mega emotional reaction that I did when she started preschool three years ago. That was three hours twice a week, and now we're talking almost seven hours five days a week. She was ready, and I was too. She's already learned so much in the first ~eight weeks.

Waking up in the mornings and getting ready -- out the door by 7:20, maybe 7:25 at the latest -- has proven very challenging. Even with a uniform and not really much to do (potty, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, sunblock, shoes and grab backpack) she makes it take forever with grumpiness. We have her alarm set at 6:14 to give her a full hour to get up and together. It's still sometimes a photo finish!

Jane's school has a cafeteria, but it's like a mini college dining hall in that you have to pay for a full semester or year meal plan. You can't look at the menu and decide to eat 3 of 5 days or even week by week or month by month. We talked about it and decided to pack lunches -- Jane was definitely part of that decision. She was so mad on her first day when many other kids got a hot dog and she had to eat a sandwich.

But since I'm packing her lunch every day I'm also including a small drawing and note. I've had a lot of fun drawing things and looking at YouTube videos to learn new sketches. I'm not an artist, but I am a copy cat -- I can sketch simple drawings by looking at them. (Kind of like how I can copy cat things in crochet!) My favorite YouTube channel so far is called Draw So Cute, and I've drawn many of her things for Jane's lunch notes.

Now I have to decide how to collect those, because I'd like to have them in a little book to flip through and see how my drawings have gotten better (probably a third of the time I do something quick, which means a stick figure Jane!). Every one is dated, and right now they're just in an envelope. I draw on colored post-it notes, so I'm thinking maybe sticking them onto a bigger piece of paper in a grid then putting those in sheet protectors in a 3-ring binder? Will report back when I find a solution that works.

A Quarter Year

I haven't published here in three months. I haven't been writing in a journal or otherwise. I still write my weekly emails about the girls, so I have a record of our life somewhere. I tweet and occasionally post on Facebook. But as for long-form writing, I've basically stopped.

But November is coming. And November means NaBloPoMo. Although it doesn't look like BlogHer is doing anything official.

I'm still beyond disgusted with the state of American democracy. Every time I think OK this is the worst it can get the next day it gets a little worse. So that may have something to do with my lack of writing.

I also haven't had as much to do for work, and when I'm less busy I am less productive in other aspects of my life.

I guess I don't have to know why. Just popping in to say that's what it is and that I plan to write every day in November, even if there isn't an official NaBloPoMo group to join.

On Saying Goodbye

I'm a member of the United Methodist Church, which is a connectional church and has an itinerant ministry model. Our pastors are moved every so often. Except, of course, in the cases of big churches with big budgets, which get to decide how long they keep their pastors without interference from the regional bishop.

Our church is in the middle of such a transition. Our senior pastor left at the end of June -- moving onto a bigger, better church in New Orleans. Not by his choice, but gone nonetheless. We have a new lead pastor, a woman, which is incredible. But transitions are hard. I like her very much and think it will be for the best somehow -- she's here for this time and this place. But I hate change.

I hadn't been close to a pastor in many years. The last time I remember feeling this bad when a pastor moved on was as a kid when the pastor who baptized me (also a woman!) was moved. I got to see her a few more times during college because she was at a church close to there and I was able to visit her, and I'm sure eventually it wasn't a big deal to go to church without her being there.

But I hadn't opened my heart up like that since, in part due to self-preservation and also because I was the one who kept moving -- college, then grad school, then here for work and there for marriage. Finally here, to Baton Rouge, for my husband's job. I always attended churches -- United Methodist Churches in fact -- but I stayed away from the deep, personal relationships.

So I became more a part of this church, my current church, and work hard alongside the people and the pastor. I counted him as a friend in addition to mentor and guide of sorts. I also just really liked him, enjoyed seeing him at least once a week and hearing his sermons. And he LOVES my kids, which is probably the #1 way to my heart.

So I'm still processing the goodbye. And wondering if it's worth it to make myself open to that kind of pain again. It's one thing when I'm the one moving on and something else completely when I'm the one being left.

I don't know -- these thoughts are certainly diluted by the three weeks of time away from the old pastor and three weeks with the new pastor. And I know things are fine, or they will be soon. This isn't a crisis in the big picture. This just is the way things are...

What to Expect: Downtown Baton Rouge Fourth of July Fireworks

I am of the Swistle camp, wherein new experiences make me anxious and I like to know exactly what to expect, or at least as exactly as is possible. First-person descriptions of experiences are invaluable to that. And I could find NONE online for the downtown Baton Rouge Fourth of July fireworks display.  I even asked a few people I know who have lived in Baton Rouge for a while, and no one had actually been to this.

Online there were a few vague ads for the event, which was sponsored by the USS Kidd, a museum/monument on the Mississippi River. But they mostly focused on the daytime Independence Day activities, and I'm not interested in hauling kids to a full day of things AND staying up late for fireworks (plus the heat, my God, the heat). No information about parking and its cost, traffic plans, bathrooms.

But last night we went anyway.

We left our house just before 7 p.m. -- two hours before the fireworks began. The drive downtown takes about 15 minutes, and we were parked by 7:30 I think. We didn't run into traffic but we did take a couple loops trying to decide on parking. There's a choice -- park far away, maybe pay a little less or park closer and pay $10. We picked the "throw money at it" route and forked over the tenner. No problem. We were a block and a half away from the riverfront, making for an easy walk. There were still plenty of spots, although as we got closer to 9 the lots did fill up. (Jane said "That guy's getting rich!" about the parking lot attendant with his fat roll of cash for making change.)

Some people had parked tail-gate style, with their truck beds facing the river, in a lot just across River Road, the street that runs alongside the river. They could see the fireworks from their trucks and then more quickly get going to beat the crush of traffic after the show ... in theory at least.

When we got downtown in advance of the fireworks display, plenty of people were on the levee, and some had definitely been there for a while. But it wasn't crowded really yet. We were able to get a spot on some grass on the non-river side of the levee's sidewalk, and we were a few blocks north of the USS Kidd where all the days' activities had been.

Jane passed some time climbing down the sloped side of the levee toward the river -- it has big metal letters spelling out Baton Rouge. She did get her shoes completely muddy and gross, even though Shawn told her to stay away from the edge of the river, but that and some ant bites she got were the worst things, and neither was so bad. Livia was a little harder to control, since it was past bedtime and she likes to walk around but it wasn't really safe to let her do so, since the ground slopes on both sides of the sidewalk. It's a more gentle slope on the grassy side toward the road, but it's still a slope.

The weather was pretty much perfect. It was hot, sure, but low 80s probably. There is humidity, yes, but it wasn't super oppressive. There was wind that kept things comfortable. I was expecting to be super hot, but I was much more comfortable than I was the night before at the Kenilworth Independence Day parade. So we were lucky in that aspect.

The crowd thickened after sunset, and there were people constantly strolling along the sidewalk -- even during the show, which began just before 9 p.m. and was about 20 minutes long. We stayed on the grassy side of the sidewalk, since people filled in front of us, but we were all able to see because the fireworks go up so high. We maybe missed seeing some of the water reflections because of the people in front of us, but we still enjoyed the show. (It was the first fireworks for Jane and Livia both!)

Because we timed our coming and going (and because we were lucky I guess) we didn't need a bathroom, and that's a good thing. At the downtown Baton Rouge fireworks display THERE ARE NO BATHROOMS. According to the ads, you could pay $5 for a bathroom pass to the USS Kidd, which seems insane. There are a few restaurants and hotels that were open, and that's where police directed a woman who asked for a bathroom. (Their exact words were first "Good luck" while shrugging their shoulders.) It doesn't seem safe/right/legal to have a huge crowd without some sort of public bathroom facilities. But welcome to Louisiana I suppose.

We took glow bracelets I had left over from Halloween and a light-up toy she got at Mardi Gras. I had bubbles in my pocket but forgot about them. There were people selling waters, and probably closer to the USS Kidd there were more food options. We ate supper at home and brought waters for the girls. There were no bag checks or food police, so having a picnic or snacks would have been fine I'm sure, although a little awkward in the proximity of the sidewalk.

The show was good -- not as good as the DC or NYC shows we've seen in the past -- but still worth the trip. The girls liked it, although the booms scared Jane a little. We'd brought noise dampening headphones for both of them, but only Jane wore hers.

Getting back to the car was fine -- I wore Livia and pushed Jane in the stroller while Shawn carried our blanket and stadium seats. (In retrospect, because we parked so close I would have brought the lawn chairs just for the wait -- standing during the show was fine.) We had to maneuver a bit through the crowd, but it was doable.

Once in the car it took a while to exit our spot and then the parking lot. We went one way hoping to exit toward our house and avoid the interstate. We tried three different times and kept hitting road blocks with police funneling people toward the interstate. I get keeping people from coming into the congested area with contraflow, but why would you not let them out in every possible way?!?! Finally we got to Government Street and took that to Park to Perkins and home. It was about 10:20 when we got home, so about 40 minute travel home I think. Livia cried the second half of it, so that wasn't fun.

We got the girls in bed. Jane slept late, but Liv was up at her usual time. She just had a good long nap though, so hopefully we can get back into a regular sleep pattern. I'd advise people without kids, or with kids who can stay up later, to just hang out downtown a little bit to let the traffic thin before heading out.

TLDR; The downtown Baton Rouge fireworks display is worth the hassle. Parking is available -- for a cost. No bathrooms. Some food for purchase, but it seems fine to bring your own. Traffic is congested as expected after the show.

Maternal Separation Anxiety

I'm volunteering for my church's VBS. Jane is in the "levelers" crew for The Maker Fun Factory. It's a pretty cute curriculum, and Jane is very happy and loves being so busy. Livia stays in the nursery, and yesterday, day one, was pretty hard. But only for me!

Livia loves all the toys and probably the attention from the workers. There are only 3-4 kids at any given time and plenty of things to check out and do.

Yesterday I was kind of a wreck, and I hated being away from her. I couldn't just go check on her/get a quick hug because I knew that would mess her up. As soon as I went into the nursery she started saying "BYE! BYE!" to everyone, ready to go. And today she cried a little and handed me her water bottle ready to go. Both days I sat and hung out for a bit before we left for the closing VBS songs.

I know it's normal, and she's exhibiting age appropriate attachment. I am sure I felt this way when I was leaving Jane for the first times. So I'm probably normal too. Today was actually much better, and I didn't feel quite as anxious. Maybe it will get progressively better as the week goes on.

As an aside, I'm the photographer for this event. So I'm just floating around the VBS and taking pictures of kids doing this and that. Both days I've taken nearly 300 photos (yikes!), with about 70-80 being usable. But I feel like it's not a very good contribution. Everyone there has cell phones and could easily take (and are taking) plenty of photos. (Who really needs 70+ photos each day?!)

So that adds to the "why am I even here if I'm not needed?" aspect of things and I could be looking after my own baby. BUT she needs the practice so I can get in a better gym rhythm, although the YMCA child care is a different story and Livia cries when I drop her off, even when Jane is there with her. There are more kids, more stuff and I guess it's just less familiar or something.

Still finding our way... And I guess I'll keep shooting the VBS event. It beats cleaning toilets (which another volunteer did because we have a surplus of volunteers and our custodian is out with lung issues)...

Book Notes: Selfish, Shallow, And Self-Absorbed

I read a book of sixteen essays on the choice to not have children. It was pretty interesting, although some of the voices kind of blended together. I obviously made the opposite choice, and I'd bristle at the identity of "breeder" or that having a family is my way of perpetuating the white race (!!). It's a biological imprint and a social construct that really works for me. But man, I'm so tired and some of the arguments laid out for why these writers chose to remain child-free had me nodding my head. (But never doubting my decision for a second of course!)

Anyway, here are few things I highlighted in the Kindle book -- getting them out before I return the e-book to the library.

Perhaps I was kind of a human geode: sparkly and hollow. - Courtney Hodell, "Babes in the Woods" (I just liked this.)

There is nothing more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children. -Sigrid Nunez, "The Most Important Thing" (I think it might be more boring to spend endless amounts of time with mansplainers, but I certainly get the point!)

I suspect that my commitment to and delight in parenting would be so formidable that it would take precedence over anything and everything else in my life; that my mastery of motherhood would eclipse my need for -- or ability to achieve -- success in any other arena. Basically, I'm afraid of my own competence. -Anna Holmes, "Mommy Fearest" (I've copied down previous Anna Holmes quotes -- she founded Jezebel -- and I think this is true for my approach to motherhood. It's all consuming, and I'm not ALWAYS sure that's a good thing.)

...while life may not have a purpose, it certainly has consequences, one of which is the accumulation of a vast, coastal shelf of uncut, 100-percent-pure regret. -Geoff Dyer, "Over and Out" (a super valid response to the idea that "you'll regret it later" if you don't have kids now/when you're young/whatever)

Birkenstock Repairs

Well-loved, ~5-year-old Birkenstock sandals in need of repair

I bought my Gizeh-style Birkenstock sandals almost five years ago in Berlin, when Jane was just 9-months-old. What an adventure. These were my main souvenir (in addition to some wooden toys and Christmas decorations). They'd started to hurt my feet, with the cork cracked and parts of the soles rubbed flat. The part that touched my feet was disintegrating, or at least it felt that way.

I was torn between buying a replacement pair (the sparkly, blue-looking "snakeskin" style continues to haunt me across the Internet ... thanks, cookies) and paying for them to be re-soled. The cost was essentially the same. But if I didn't get them repaired what would I do -- throw them out? I've worn them so often and for so long. And the tops are still fine -- nice purple leather that just needs a little cleaning. And shiny, purple leather doesn't seem to be an option anymore, not even in purple-crazy LSU country!

I looked around online and found iBirks.com, which had been written about in the New York Times a couple years ago. There were good reviews, and I decided to take a chance. I sent my shoes off on a Tuesday. They arrived at iBirks (in Cincinnati) on Thursday and were back to me on Monday! So the whole thing, including shipping, took less than a week!

Birkenstock sandals repaired

I had ordered "The Package," which included an upgraded/longer lasting heel, leather conditioner and cork sealer. They didn't arrive with my shoes, so I wrote to ask about them. I don't think the heel can be added now (and I'm not sure if it actually is on or not, since I didn't fully understand that). The iBirks.com guy said he'd ship me the missing conditioner and sealer, so they should be here soon.

I can certainly tell a difference in the shoes, and it's taking a while for me to break them in. I'm wearing them as much as I dare. I think I read just 2 hours a day until you've worn them a few hours. At first they felt so tight because my feet were back up so close to the straps and I was used to them being very loose and floppy (realizing now I can adjust the buckles to keep them tight as the soles wear down). The new soles look great -- the cork and the nonslip base part. The leather uppers weren't actually cleaned (another thing listed in the package), but I have wiped them down and they feel like mine anyway.

Soon enough these will be my most comfortable shoes again!

Want to Order a Crochet Hat?

Thanks for your interest in silvermari crochet hats . Most of what I make are sized for infants and toddlers, although I can size up and dow...