This is why we can’t have nice things

Look what happened to my pretty Christmas table centerpiece.

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Thank you, bad kitties.

Thankfully, nothing was breakable.  I just smoothed the tablecloth back out and righted the little tree.

I’m considering getting some of that no-slip drawer or cabinet lining and creating an underlayer for all of my tableclothes.  Maybe that will keep them from sliding off so easily.

My Thanksgiving blessing

We were in Orlando for Thanksgiving this year so there was no turkey, no dressing, no dining table filled to capacity with casserole dishes.  Our “let’s buy groceries as we need them” plan backfired, as we lost track of the days and didn’t realize until Thanksgiving evening that we had no yummy food to make for our meal.

So while I read friends’ Facebook posts of the homemade macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pies, and yeast rolls, my own dinner consisted of some slices of salami, cheese, and apples.  And then spoonfuls of peanut butter to supplement, since my belly was still empty.  Everyone else got Eggo waffles.

But even though we missed a bountiful Thanksgiving feast, I did get a Thanksgiving blessing a few days later.

It was on the drive back to Little Rock, when we stopped in at a hotel in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  The next morning, we all headed down to the lobby for the free breakfast.  I let the girls eat at a table by themselves while I drank my coffee and ate my cereal.

I was just about done when an older gentleman one table over looked over at me and said in a thick Mississippi drawl, “Children are a gift.  Tell them every day you love them.”  I nodded in agreement, thinking this was just casual grandpa talk.

The man continued.  He teared up and told me that his own son had died just 6 weeks earlier.  He was 39 and was killed in a motorcycle accident.  “You think they’re precious now.  Well, I gotta tell you, they get more precious each day.”  And he repeated his admonition to tell them every day that I love them.

He told me how he often clashed with his son, becoming frustrated with him when he wouldn’t tow the line and do things the way his father said.  “You know, I’m thinking, I’m the father.  He should just do what I say, right??”  And then he told me of some unsolicited advice he received years ago from an acquaintance, telling him to step back and allow his son to walk his own path.  He said he thought it was meddling at the time, but had come to see the wisdom of the words.

And then he repeated them to me as we sat in the hotel lobby, two strangers having met by chance on a Thanksgiving weekend.

“They might not always do things the way you think they ought to, but that don’t mean it’s not the right way.  There’s more than one right way.”

A beautiful Thanksgiving blessing.

Channeling my inner geezer

Last night I taught Olivia how to play dominoes.  She suggested dominoes as a family game to play, thinking we’d just take turns laying down dominoes with numbers matching the ones already on the table.  But I taught her the real way.

Keeping score with pluses instead of numbers.

Do you see how bad Tony smoked us?  It was shameful.  He did that in just three hands.  I started calling him Mr. 1 Percent Domino.

I laughed about how I was channeling my inner geezer, but really I was feeling all nostalgic about the times I sat around the table playing dominoes with my Granny and Papa.  I cannot count the number of times we all sat around the table at night and played this game until bedtime.  My Granny and Papa aren’t with us any more, but it felt good to bring Olivia into the tradition.

We’re ba-a-a-ack!!!

Somehow we survived a week in Orlando, along with a 2-day drive there and back.  We got back into town yesterday at about 3:00 and we have hardly moved since.

We took my daughter and her BFF from school.  I know… crazy, right?  We figured it would make an extra special birthday present AND it would make the parks easier on us if she had a friend to go on the rides with.

I’ve got about a million vacation photos to wade through.  Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with them here.  (Okay, maybe just a few of them…)  We got a coupon from our resort for a free Shutterfly book.  A day later, a friend emailed me to tell me she had received a coupon for a free Shutterfly book and asked if I wanted that one.  So now it looks like both girls will be getting Shutterfly vacation books.  Yay!!

On a totally unrelated note, I’m contemplating making a large craft-related purchase.  I’m about 95% there.  I dug through my stash of old Christmas and birthday cards and found enough money stuck in there to cover 70% of the $1,000 it will cost me.  All I have to do is just go on to Amazon and click ‘purchase’.  Intrigued yet?  I won’t say anything about what it is until it’s in my hot little hands.

Has it really been two weeks?

Looks like it has, and I’m just popping in to tell you I’m still alive.  In the past two weeks we’ve planned and executed THREE birthday parties for Olivia.  Gosh, that sounds so extreme.  One was a casual party for the family, just cupcakes and Happy Birthday and opening presents.  Then what we termed the “party party” that we invited all of her friends from school, church, and neighborhood to.  Then, the following night, the slumber party. It was our first ever time to host a slumber party.   We had planned on having a very limited guest list, but somehow we ended up with 11.  With Olivia it was 12.  Wow.  I may or may not blog in more detail about that later.

I also managed to bake and ice 96 pumpkin spice cupcakes (with cinnamon cream cheese icing) to take up to teachers and staff at Liv’s school as a thank you for helping out with the Fall Fest.  Gosh, that seems like ages ago.

Oh, and tomorrow morning we’re heading out for a trip to Orlando.  I have a feeling I won’t be finding time to blog again until we’re back.

I’m tired!!

 

Sneaking another one in at the last minute

As if stitching on the child’s costume until right before we walked out of the door to a pre-Halloween event wasn’t last minute enough, how about some Halloween pumpkin crafting – on Halloween itself?

Several weeks before, I bought a bag full of foam pumpkins and the supplies needed to glitter them up. $55 on pumpkins and glue and glitter.  And then Fall Fest happened.  And then I had to make a costume.  Halloween nearly came and went without us actually using the supplies I bought.

Tuesday night we spray painted a base coat on the pumpkins, and the Wednesday when Liv came home from school we made a big ole’ glittery mess on the kitchen floor.  One of her friends came over, and we let her make a pumpkin, too.  Just before heading out to trick or treat, we added these four pumpkins to our front porch.

They’re not as fancy or as polished as other pumpkin crafts I’ve seen out on Pinterest and on other people’s blogs, but they were SO. MUCH. FUN. to make.  It was a crazy crafting free-for-all.  It was a good exercise for me in giving up control, turning the little girl loose and seeing what she came up with.  (The dracula face in the top photo and the white stripe and blue polka dotted one in the bottom photo are both all hers.)  And it turns out that it was a good activity to fill the time between school and trick or treating.  I think we may have discovered a new Halloween tradition.

On a side note, this was the first time I’d used  Martha Stewart glitter and glitter glue.  As much as her pious perfectionist ways really get under my skin, I’ve got to give it to her that she makes good glittering stuff.  I’ll be buying her glitter and glitter glue from now on.

In the nick of time

The death march through the holidays continues.  Friday night was Fall Fest at Liv’s school, which is why this blog has been silent lately.  This was our first annual Fall Fest, and my job coordinating it kind of consumed my life.

In the middle of it all, I also had to pull together Liv’s Halloween costume.  She wore the same cat costume for three years in a row, but this year she finally decided to change it up and go as Hermione instead.

I found the uniform pieces from Justice.  (btw, I HATE that store!! All the flashy, cheaply made clothes that are ridiculously overpriced…)  I made the cape.  The Gryffindor patch was done on the fancy schmancy Bernina embroidery machine that I’m reviewing for Craft Gossip.The outer is black suiting, and it’s lined with burgundy fleece so it’s good and warm for cold weather trick or treating.   Because of the thick lining and the “won’t hold a crease” polyester suiting, I used strips of the suiting to bind the edges.

I was sewing the cape until the very last minute.  She wore it unhemmed to a party Sunday night.  It dragged the ground and collected leaves and all manner of dirt.  Yesterday I trimmed it up and hemmed it, handstitching until the minute we had to walk out of the house to go to Boo at the Zoo.

This morning I realized that we still have a pumpkin that we haven’t carved yet.  And we haven’t decorated any of the 7 foam pumpkins I bought from Michael’s.  The little girl is home sick with a tummy ache today, so maybe we’ll make decorating pumpkins a fun sick day activity.

She’s much sweeter when she’s grounded

Do you know how happy I was when the little girl was finally old enough to be grounded?  As a younger child, she was infinitely adaptable to whatever kind of consequence we’d give.  Threaten to take a toy away?  That was effective until we actually had to carry through, and then she realized it wasn’t that big of a loss.  Time out? There was always some form of entertainment nearby. We finally had to tell her to “pick a square” meaning she had to choose a 12-inch tile in the kitchen or dining room and not let her little behind leave that space until time out was over.  There was never any consequence that we could count on to actually be distasteful to her.  But now that she’s a tweenish sort, grounding her from phone, TV, friends, and computer is finally a consequence with some teeth.

Today she was sassy to me when I asked her to turn down the speaker phone while she was talking to her friend.  They play an online computer game together with the speaker phones turned on so they can have real-time conversation.  Her friend lives 3 hours away so I allow this kind of crazy phone/computer use.

But I digress.  Because of her sassmouth, I told her she needed to get off of the phone.  Things escalated and ended with her telling me she was going to go out to the woods by herself.  Fine.  “The woods” are just a few wooded lots behind our house.  I thought it would be a good cooling down so I allowed it.

Not ten minutes go by, and she yells in the back door, “I’m going to go a little farther than the woods!”.  You can guess what my response was.  A quick and unequivocal “NO!”

Another ten minutes go by, and I go out to check on her.  It turns out that she had indeed gone farther than the woods.  Far enough that she didn’t immediately respond when I called her.  It turns out that she had gone as far as the little neighborhood lake across the street from the woods, which is a big big big no-no at our house.  No children at the lake unattended.  Just not safe.

So of course she got chewed out all the way home.  And of course she cried and said she was sorry.  She said she hadn’t heard me tell her “no” since she had already closed the door and was on her way down the sidewalk by the time I said it.  (Don’t worry, I let her that was not a valid excuse!  She was still expected to do what I said, even if she didn’t wait around to hear what it was.)  And then she wanted to know what the consquence would be.  She knew she’d be grounded, but she didn’t know how long it would be.  I sent her to her room and then waited for Tony to come home so we could discuss.  (The final result: Not allowed in the woods for a full week.  Grounded from TV, phone, computer, and friends for the rest of today and two more days.)

Here’s the thing.  Once she accepted that she was grounded, she became a totally different child.  She became sweet.  She wanted to sit with me on the couch.  And she wanted to have conversation.  And she immediately decided she’d write a book.  “The Eight Days of Halloween”.  Within 30 minutes, she’d written two “chapters”, each a full page on standard notebook paper.

It happens like this every time.  She’s much sweeter when she’s grounded than when she has access to computer, phone, or TV.  I suppose if I were a good parent (or one with a backbone), I’d take that as motivation to remove her from all electronic media.  Cancel our Dish.  Declare our house a TV- and computer-free zone.

But given that we’ve defined a media-free existence as a consequence for bratty behavior, in her mind we’d be putting her on permanent punishment.  That hardly seems fair.  “Because you bring your attitude into check whenever you get this consequence, let’s just have the consequence all the time!”  Yeeeeahhhh, that’d go over well.  And then, what would we do for consequences when the sassmouth or bratty behavior bubbled to the surface again?  I don’t think “pick a square” would work any more.

So we’re kind of stuck.  My child is much nicer to be around when she’s grounded, but she can’t stay grounded all the time.  I find myself secretly being glad when I get to ground her.  Sick, isn’t it?

Beach photos, macro edition

I’ve been back from the beach for a few weeks now, but I’m just now getting to play with some of my favorite photos.

One of my favorite things to do when I’m at the beach is to take a walk in the morning, camera in hand, to see what kinds of photographic treasures have washed up in the night.  I like to use a macro lens so I can get up close and maintain details.  When I bring it up on my computer, I zoom in to see what I can find.  It’s kind of like discovering new tiny worlds.

Here are some of my favorites:

shells on a stick

some sort of dried tangled seaweed

shell

shell filled with sand

broken shell

This is where we were last night

Last night we had a special family outing.

We all bundled up and spent the evening watching a Little Rock Central High football game.  My alma mater.

Little girl had never been to a football game before. She’s seen some football games on TV now and then (we’re not super big into televised sports at our house), and had asked to go to a game.  Actually, she asked to go to a Razorback game but we knew that it was a) too expensive and b) going to be too rowdy for our littl girl.

High school football seemed more her speed.  The only problem is that every year the season ends before we’re able to find a night that they’re playing a home game AND we’re free AND there’s good weather.

Until last night.

As it turned out, it was also the homecoming game.  How lucky was that??

We watched as the high-steppers did a pre-game routine.  Liv got a huge kick out of watching the football players run through the big sign when they took the field.  I got a little teary when they started playing the alma mater – Hail to the old gold, Hail to the black….  I felt all kinds of nostalgic looking over and seeing the big crowd of high school kids standing near the end zone.  Just like old times.  Except now I’m seeing the kids of my friends standing in that group.  And I’m picturing a few years from now when Liv will be standing there with them.

It was good times.

Though I do have a bone to pick with their band director.  EVERYONE KNOWS that you’re supposed to play the fight song TWICE.  Play it once, then do the “chee cha, ha ha, Tigers, Tigers, rah, rah, rah” cheer, then play it AGAIN.  That’s how it goes.   This playing it once and leaving the “chee cha, ha ha” cheer just hanging out there is lame.  Just sayin’.

You can see that the other stands are pretty much empty.  Our opponents were from a town several hours away, so their crowd was pretty thin.  (That, and our stadium is a lot larger than most high school stadiums and it takes a LOT of bodies to fill the stands.)

In case you’re wondering, we smoked ’em.  35 to 20.