so this happened last week


Little girl got her braces off!

Woot!  Woot!

Here’s what they looked like 30 minutes before that photo


I wish I had a before photo handy to show you just how much her front teeth have straightened up in the last year.  One of her teeth was at a 45 degree angle.  Which was an improvement over it growing in just about sideways a few years ago, a full 90 degrees off.  It straightened out some on its own, but it took some hardware and some ortho bills to straighten it the rest of the way.

We celebrated by heading straight to the candy shop in the mall and got a bag of chewy gummy candy that she hadn’t been able to eat for the past year.


We’ll be back for round 2 of braces in a few years, but for now it’s going to be nice to enjoy being braces (and braces bills) free.

Almost done with the wonky doll quilt


The doll quilt is all pieced and quilted and nearly done!  I’m showing it pre-quilted because those are the photos I have handy on my camera.  The quilting was just stitching in the ditch so it doesn’t add that much to the design.

It ended up rather wonky because of my laziness (and I won’t rule out arrogance, either)  in thinking it wasn’t really allll that necessary to square the blocks.  It’s a small quilt, right?  I can make it work.  Ha!


Here it is pre-quilting.  It’s hard to see, but a lot of the gray areas are kind of wavy where the pieces stretched.  Oh well, la la, right?

It’s just a doll quilt.  I’m not planning on entering it into any competitions or showing it at any guild meetings.  I’m making myself happy with it regardless of the imperfections.  The colors ARE pretty, aren’t the?

Grocery shopping was fun yesterday

Dare I say it?  I actually kinda enjoyed grocery shopping yesterday!

And I came home with a cart full of yummy, relatively healthy food.


Well… except for the potato chips.  Kettle chips are my kryptonite.

It’s been a while since grocery shopping hasn’t totally sucked.  It’s one of the side effects of having a picky eater in your house.  There is no motivation to try new recipes because no matter what it is, if it isn’t tortellini with Alfredo sauce or French toast, it’ll be met with tears and trepidation and negotiations about how much we really expect her to eat.

Sucks the ever livin’ joy out of making food.  So you just try to find some kind of easy to fix something to eat every night while you boil yet another pot of noodles for the little girl.

That’s how it was until just a few weeks ago, when I’d had enough.  I’d made chicken nuggets for her.  Organic chicken nuggets because I thought maybe she wouldn’t turn her nose up at nuggets if it was a better grade of meat.  But of course she did, what was I thinking???

There were tears.  Ohhh, so many tears, as if I was asking her to ingest poison.  There were selfies messaged to her BFF showing exactly how much she was suffering.

It was ridiculous.

So after that night, there has been a new rule in our house.  She eats what we eat, no complaining, no fussing.  If she utters one negative word about the meal, she is grounded from all electronics and friends for the next day.  Two complaints, two days grounded.  We do not force her to eat it, but if she chooses to not eat the food there will be no other food until the next regularly scheduled mealtime.

And as a reward, if she can go a full week with no complaining, she gets to pick the entire menu for one meal.

It has been blissful.  There are many nights when she does not eat the food, but at 10 years old she’s old enough to understand why she’s hungry.

She ate steak the other night.  She wouldn’t go so far as to say she actually LIKED it, but she did say, “it’s not bad if you eat it with mashed potatoes.”  It felt like a victory.

And now grocery shopping is kind of fun again.  I’ve been browsing Pinterest for new recipes to try and filling my cart with ingredients and a fresh attitude toward or mealtimes.

I said I would never…

Me and the tween girl, we find ourselves at loggerheads so often.  I am experiencing a bone-crushing dread for the actual teenage years.  And I find myself venturing further and further into the “I said I would never…” territory.  Choose your battles, keep the peace.

Like this morning, when I allowed her to bring a less than healthy lunch to school.

The child is a picky eater.  Like, she takes it to Olympic levels.  I used to make lunches for her to take to school.  They weren’t the healthiest lunches, but it was the best I could do with what she’d eat and what would keep well in a lunchbox for several hours.  So it would be a hot dog or PB & J or a roast beef wrap, with a fruit and a couple of cookies and a small bottle of water.  Until the first words in the car after school were a rundown of the various reasons why she couldn’t eat the lunch I had prepared for her.  Gotten my butt out of bed at 6:00 am and made for her.

“The bread was a little mushy so I couldn’t eat the sandwich.”

“There was a hard part in the wrap so I couldn’t eat it.”

There was NEVER a problem with the cookies, mind you.

So I just kind of gave up and started letting her eat the school lunches.  Except she doesn’t like the school lunches either.  The only things she’ll eat on the tray are the carbs.  Certainly not good nutrition but for $2.50 a day I don’t have to get up early to make a lunch she won’t eat, and I won’t get her critique at the end of the day.

Except last week she was SO hungry at the end of the day and kept begging me to drive her through McDonald’s and get her some fries.  Let me stop right here and tell you that I never ever ever just drive the child through McDonald’s and “get some fries”, and certainly not because she refused to eat her lunch.  So I don’t know where that request came from, but she was stuck on it.

I’m so hu-u-u-ungry.  Why, mama, why won’t you get some fries?  The meat on the tray was -dramatic pause- “mystery meat”!  I COULDN’T eat it!

Friends, I did not fall for it.  Instead, I very matter-of-factly told her that she could make her own lunch for school if she didn’t like tray lunch.  “Really?!?”  And she didn’t even balk when I told her she’d have to get up a little earlier in the morning to do it.

Sure enough, the next morning she popped out of bed a few minutes earlier (okay, so slowly rollllled out of bed…) and went to the kitchen and made her own lunch.  Easy Mac and canned mandarin oranges and Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and water.  I snuck in an extra pack of raisins.

Nope, wasn’t a healthy lunch.  But it was no worse than her eating $2.50 carb fest from the tray lunch, and it gave her a sense of ownership over her food.  It’s deep within the “I would never…” territory, but it’s progress.

Feeling the quilty pull again

I tend to be rather fickle with my crafting.  I move from one love to another and back again.  I started out sewing, then quilting, then paper crafting, then back to sewing, and now I’m noticing that quilty things are catching my eye again.

Friday my friend Kimberly invited me to a Sit and Quilt event at The Stitchin Post.  I brought a couple of projects with me, including an iPad case that was nearly done and just needed finishing up.  But what did I work on?  I stitched a bunch of small squares into some half-square triangles to make a doll quilt.  Liv doesn’t even really play with dolls any more.

But…. The piecing was sooo relaxing!  I think it’s the simple, repetitive, but attention-requiring tasks that allowed me to sort of zone out.  And then there’s the joy of working with colors and simple geometric shapes to make big patterns.  What’s not to love?

That night I poured myself a glass of wine and kept on piecing.


I got two small blocks finished.  My advanced quilty friends will NOT be impressed by these, but the colors and the doll-sized-ness of it makes me happy.


Actually, as I write this up, I’ve made further progress on the quilt.  Maybe I’ll post an updated pic tomorrow?

At least her hands are clean

What is it with my tween daughter’s obsession with hand sanitizer??


I have to remind the child to wash her hair, brush her teeth, even CHANGE HER UNDERWEAR, but she feels the need to carry around 4 tubes of hand sanitizer.

Shakin’ my head…

It’s the blogger’s walk of shame

Except instead of sneaking out of some place I shouldn’t have been, I’m trying to sneak back into some place I should have been.

It’s been more than a year since my last blog post.  That’s shameful.

I have written and rewritten my comeback post in my head a million times.  The reasons why I hit the wall last year, the Cliffs Notes version of what has transpired in our lives since the last post, the promises of blogging goodness to come.

It just loomed there.  The blogger’s walk of shame post.

But I’ve decided today that I’m just putting this post out there.  Just a post and nothing more, just enough that I can hit “publish” and no longer see a last post date of more than a year ago.


And there, now it’s done.  Wasn’t so hard, actually.  And now I can get back to the posts that are fun to write.

Morning at the museum

Lookie where we were today!


Is that the Oval Office?  Looks like it, but it’s actually a replica at the Clinton Presidential Center.  Liv, my mother, and I spent a couple of hours down there today.


The purpose of the trip was to see an exhibit of art made from Legos.  It was just one room, but there were a number of sculptures and accompanying photographs that included the sculptures somewhere within the scene.  They didn’t necessarily place the coordinating pieces side by side, so we had fun matching up the sculptures with the photographs.

Whenever I take Liv to see art, I ask her to tell me which piece is her favorite.  In order to answer my question, she has to look at every single piece in the gallery.  Sneaky mom.  I usually also ask her to tell me why it’s her favorite, which then gets her looking closer at color, form, etc.

Today, Liv’s favorite piece was an umbrella.  I asked her why, she said it was cool that you could make an umbrella out of Legos.  (Not a very detailed answer, but I had to agree – it IS cool that someone made an umbrella out of Legos.)


This dress was my mother’s favorite.  She liked the way that the artist showed the movement of the dress using the plastic bricks.


While we were there, we also checked out an exhibit of gifts made to the Clintons by heads of state from around the world.

After viewing the exhibits, we grabbed a bite to eat at 42, the museum restaurant.  It gets its name from the fact that Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States, and also the 42nd governor of Arkansas.  Liv felt all fancy drinking her water from a stemmed glass.


It’s a new year, y’all


Last night we said goodbye to 2012 and welcomed 2013 with open arms.  I have the typical wishes for a simpler lifestyle, a clean house, and a slimmer midsection.  I’ll try my darndest to make those happen, but the reality is that I’ll probably fall short and find myself 12 months from now wishing for those exact same things for the next year.  I’m okay with that.  Circle of life and fallen expectations and all of that.

But what I need more than anything out of coming year is a year without major sickness in our family.   Last year held a lot of good byes for me.  Our Christmas gift list was short three names.  Alzheimer’s and stage 4 cancer took my father away, body and mind. And then just a few months later, my grandmother was in the hospital, presumably for pneumonia.  She made it through and back home again, only to die suddenly from something unrelated.  And just a month before Christmas, Tony’s grandmother also died. I can make myself okay if I slip up and don’t get my house cleaned out or improving my exercise habits, but I absolutely need a year without hospitals or funerals.

I’m no longer dreaming of a white Christmas

It seems like forever since I’ve posted.  EEEK! I just checked and my last post was nearly a month ago!  Wow. 

So much has happened in that month.  It’s been a whirlwind of Christmas play practices, PTA projects, stuff going on at  Liv’s school.  And the cookie party.

The cookie party is an annual event at our house.  I bake up a jillion butter cookies and invite all of Liv’s friends to come over and decorate them.  Tony is the icing man, mixing and tinting icing for all the kids to use.  We decided that next year, Tony gets a theme song.  “Ice, Ice , Baby”  We’ll start rolling the dum-dum-dum dum-dum dum dum when we brings out the icing. 

Sometimes we have as many as 30 kids decorating cookies.  It’s a major undertaking getting ready for the party. This year I made 42 dozen rolled cookies in preparation.  That’s, like, over 500 cookies. 

But this year it got even more complicated when a friend called and asked if I could watch her two oldest kids for a couple of days while she was in the hospital.  The overstressed part of me was screaming, “Nooooo, not this week!” on the inside, but luckily the adult part of me was the one who told her that it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

I’m so glad I did.  But that’s another post.  That was such a heartbreaking but soul changing experience that I can’t do it justice in this quick recap.  I’m going to skip to Christmas.

Which was beautiful.  Liv was in a small Christmas play at church on the 23rd.  Then a candlight Christmas Eve service.  And then Santa came and left presents at our house.  And then we exchanged gifts.  Liv got tons of Lego Friends. Tony got a big ol’ popcorn maker.  I got tons of cheap costume jewelry from Forever 21. (My little girl knows what her mama likes…)

And then, Christmas evening, it snowed.

Like, a lot.

Like, 8-10 inches.

This is what my house looked like by about 6:00 that evening.


But before it snowed, we got a nice coating of ice on all the trees.  The heavy ice and then wet snow on the limbs, coupled with the strong winds, brought trees and power lines down all over the city.  We lost power at 9:00 that evening.  By the next morning, 70% of Little Rock was without electricity.

I don’t think there’s a single house in our neighborhood that doesn’t have at least one branch (or entire tree) down.  At our house, we lost a major branch on the oak tree out front, the tops of many of our beautiful azaleas are now snapped off, and a neighbor’s limb came down and punched a couple of holes in our carport roof.  I consider us to be lucky.  Our next door neighbor had a tree come down and rip the power lines off of her house, and then pulled part of the siding back.  She had a hole (and a broken, twisted window) on the back of her house.

And three houses down, another neighbor had a tree come down onto his house.  Another came down and blocked the road.  Here’s the scene at the back of his house. (Photo taken today, after most of the snow has melted.)


Needless to say, our white Christmas left a major mess all over town. 

As of today (the 29th), we still don’t have power on at our house.  We’re lucky enough to have a generator to keep some lights and the heat and the internet going, but it’s starting to wear thin.

Our dining room has been turned into a tiny efficiency apartment so we can take advantage of the heat from the fireplace.  (We turn the generator off at night and heat with an old-fashioned fire.) 


We moved the dining table out, and in its place we have the mattress from our bed, a small table, a loveseat, some TV trays, and a drying rack.  We have sheets hanging in all the doorways to keep the heat in the dining room as best we can during the night.  I don’t even want to tell you what the rest of the house looks like.  Between furniture we’ve moved out of the dining room and then all the extension cords snaking through the house and all the Christmas gifts not put up yet, it’s CRAZY messed up.  Tony has not gotten a full night sleep yet, as he has to get up several times during the night to stoke the fire or add another log.

We’re running low on firewood and I just found out it’s going to get down to 20 degrees tonight.  Think warm thoughts for us!

Next year, I don’t think I’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas.