Saturday, December 29, 2007

Good times in NYC


Our big trip to NYC was yesterday. It was great. We were able to take an express train and were in the city before 10 am. We took the subway from Herald Square up to and walked around Rockefeller Center and saw the giant Christmas tree (which is incredible, btw). We walked up 5th Avenue and peeked in all the fancy stores along the way. Mom and I ducked into St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was pretty impressive (both in size and beauty). W really enjoyed a spin around F.A.O. Schwarz; he especially liked the giant stuffed puppy dogs, which he would back up and run into head first, giggling with delight. We had a tasty lunch at a hamburger joint, which looked kind of like a hole-in-the-wall, but was actually really good, and well-priced, considering it was situated between 5th and Park avenues. Then we walked over to the CitiGroup Center and saw the holiday model train display (Mike loves model trains!). I was pretty amused at the woman in line in front of us. She had a little girl who was probably 2 and a half or 3, who was decked out in a Juicy Couture t-shirt, True Religion jeans, and silver cowgirl boots. Her mom was made up within an inch of her life and was carrying a couple of shopping bags from Fendi and Prada. You weren't allowed to bring strollers in to the train exhibit, and I noticed, after she abandoned her fancy-schmancy stroller, that there was a good-sized Tiffany's bag in the bottom basket. I thought, for a split second, about asking her if she thought it might be a good idea to carry it with her instead of leaving it like she had done... but something told me she probably already knew it and just didn't care.
After that, we took the subway over to Grand Central Station, where we were able to see the holiday light show on the ceiling (W thought that was pretty neat). By then it was close to time for my parents to take W back to NJ, so we escorted them back to Penn Station to catch the train. Mike and I then considered catching a train to Canada (ha!) but decided instead to amble around the Union Square area. We people-watched on a park bench for a good long while and even saw a guy wearing an LSU sweatshirt (Geaux Tigers!). We went to Strand Books, an incredible bookstore with over 18 miles of books.
By 5:30, we were getting super hungry, so we went on to Union Square Cafe. Let me cut to the chase: Our meal was incredible. We started with the calamari, which came with this anchovy mayonnaise dipping sauce. We also had their homemade garlic/parm potato chips. Mike had duck, I had steak. I had excellent red wine with my meal. The only disappointment was the mashed potatoes that came with my dish; I told Mike they tasted like school cafeteria mashed potatoes; he agreed with my assessment based on sight. We had a wonderful server; in fact, in searching for an image of USC to put in this post, I found this article about her! Very neat! After eating we considered staying in the city a little longer, but we were so tired that we just went ahead to the train station and just barely caught the 8:07 train. We were home by 10, as this wasn't an express train. All in all, a fantastic day. I'll post pictures soon.
And to top it all off, W did NOT fuss when my mom put him to bed. A miracle!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Look out, New York!


My parents have been here since Christmas Eve; it's great having them here. Tomorrow all of us are heading in to the Big Apple for a day of sight-seeing. We're taking an 8 o'clock train in (an Express one--43 minutes from our station to Penn Station!) and planning to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and the store displays along 5th Avenue, among other things. Mom and Dad are going to bring W back home around 3 in the afternoon and Mike and I are going to stay in the city for dinner and some after-dinner fun (we're going to try to get tix to a show). We have had dinner reservations at Union Square Cafe for weeks now--we made the reservations 2 weeks ago and they had TWO availabilities-- 5:45 and 8:15! We opted for the earlier one. We originally planned to stay in NYC for the night--we already had a hotel booked--but I chickened out about leaving W all night with my 'rents, mainly because he still isn't sleeping through the night consistently and often wants a 4 am nursing session. Anyway, we will have a wonderful dinner and time afterwards in NYC and then take a late train (10 or 11) back home. I am pretty excited.

Monday, December 24, 2007

For your Christmas viewing pleasure

One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME is on NBC tonight--It's a Wonderful Life. My mama told me that I needed to see this movie one summer when I was home from college and in a fairly deep depression. I mean REALLY deep depression. I was depressed about, among other things, the 1997 suicide-death of a dear friend and feeling pretty ready to check-out myself. Mama had me watch this movie for obvious reasons, for those of you who have seen the film. For those of you who haven't, do yourself a favor, and either watch it, TiVo it, or tape it. You won't regret it. Sure, there might be some cheesy parts in it, and yes, it is in black-and-white (which I don't care about, but some find b/w annoying), but I think you will appreciate the sentiment of the movie.
And for the record, yes, it is a very wonderful life these days!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas brownies

I just baked a bunch of brownies for our neighbors. Some have Andes mints baked into them. I bagged them up in little brown bags that I decorated with my kitty-cat "Caught up in the Christmas Spirit" stamp and then tied shut with red and green ribbons.
Shhhh! Don't tell anyone that I can actually be NICE sometimes...
By the way, when I was looking online for the image of my stamp, I noticed on Ebay where some people were selling cards (for $1.50 each!) they made by using the stamp and coloring in the little lights. That made me chuckle, since I got card stock and made my OWN Christmas cards this year with this stamp and some Crayola markers!

Pyrex?

I just got off the phone with my mom. She and my dad are flying to NJ tomorrow to spend a week with us. I'm pretty excited, especially about seeing my dad, since he hasn't been to visit since he helped us move in back in June. Anyway, Mama was calling to see if I wanted her to bring the gift that my grandfather Archie (my dad's adoptive dad--Dad's biological father died when my grandmother was 7 months preggers) gave me for Christmas. Let me preface this by saying that Archie is one of the cheapest men on the face of the earth. Let me also say that he is pretty old and can't exactly go around buying extravagant gifts for people. That being said, I will continue. So Mama said that he gave me a Pyrex dish that had belonged to my grandmother (who died when I was 4). For the past few years he has been giving me and Mama things that belonged to her--costume jewelry, mainly--as well as a regular present, such as a gift card, or, as he did last year, a cashmere-like scarf. Okay, so this year, it's a Pyrex dish. Hmm. It's nice to have it since it belonged to my grandmother and she was a really good cook. But what did my three cousins get? Money. Cash. Ducats.
I am such a horrible person to even say what I have said--it sounds immature and shallow, right? I'm not complaining, really. I just think it's a little weird.
If you're sitting there and aren't convinced, let me put the icing on the cake for you. For our wedding gift, Archie "gave" me and Mike a picture he has hanging in his house. The catch? We can't have it till he croaks. Now you'll agree with me on the weirdness factor of the whole thing.

Festivus

FYI, today is Festivus. Gather 'round Ye Olde Festivus Pole and air those grievances, people!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What a mess!

Here's a little holiday elf-ish-ness for y'all! This is W in his early-morning bed-head glory.

Here are pics of my latest cross-stitch projects that I put in the mail for friends this morning.

This is for a friend's 5-year-old daughter who is going to start losing teeth any day now. On the back of the piece is a little pocket for the tooth and money. It's to hang on the doorknob, because we all know how much the tooth fairy hates to have to search for a tooth under the pillow!

This is a Christmas ornament for the same little girl. I also got her this craft kit that lets you make your own pencil erasers. You make your erasers with the provided Sculpey clay, bake it for a certain amount of time, and volia! You've got a personalized eraser!

This ornament is for the daughter of another friend. This little girl is 2; I just sent her a "Birthday Blessings" cross-stitch for her birthday, which was last week. I also sent a door-hanging that says "Diva" in hot pink glittery letters, since that is what her mama calls her.
This is for the son of my dearest friend. Her little boy was born in March. I also sent him a touch-and-feel book with farm animals in it. W loves those types of books, so I figured her little guy might appreciate it too.
All the designs I posted above are by Lizzie Kate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

I had a nice birthday today. Mike got the bag for me that I wanted. He printed out the webpage with the picture and description of the bag and went to the store in Princeton that carries Vera Bradley bags. He handed the clerk the print-out and said, "I need this for my wife". The clerk was very accommodating. I also got a sweet card from Mike, W, Kramer, Willie and Maggie. My in-laws got me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. They have a deal going on right now where you get THREE years for 20 bucks. Not bad! My mom (and dad) got me a pair of brown wedge-heel boots when I was in MS over Thanksgiving, as well as Season 3 of 90210. Mom and dad are bringing it for me when they come next week for Christmas. I cannot wait to watch some of the best 90210 episodes EVER. Let's see... Donna and Brenda go to France, Dylan and Kelly hook up, Kelly od's on diet pills and...... DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

RIP Santa?

What is it with parents telling their kids that Santa is dead?? Sure "St. Nicholas" the person is dead... But SANTA?? No no no. Let kids believe in the "magic" of Santa as long as possible. Rachel felt my distress at this development and sent this picture to me:

When W gets older, Mike and I have decided that we will let him believe for as long as he wants to and then take the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" approach.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas prep

I just ordered W some books and a DVD from Amazon.com to take advantage of their free super-saver shipping (I think today was the last day to get it in time for Christmas delivery). They also have their great 4-for-3 promo on a lot of stuff. I was able to get him three books, a DVD, and a 2008 calendar for me for $30. Not bad. The DVD is a Sesame Street one called "Sing, Hoot and Howl with the Sesame Street Animals." He'll love it since he loves SS and he is nuts about animals of any kind. The DVD has the muppet animals, plus videos of real animals. I got him a few "lift the flap" books as well since he has a few already and really likes manipulating the flaps and gets all excited when he sees what's underneath. The calendar I got for myself is by Anne Taintor. I love her stuff. She takes (real) pictures of women from the 1940s and 1950s and adds kitchy, sassy phrases such as "of course it buys happiness" and "make your own damn dinner." I think I'll enjoy it all year long. I had a grocery list pad for a while (I've used it all up" by Anne Taintor that said "frugal is such an ugly word" across the top. It was great. I miss it.
I assembled several cross-stitched Christmas ornaments last night that I've got to get mailed tomorrow. Our mail around here is super-slow, so I need to give it plenty of time to get to Mississippi. I did ornaments for some friends' kids and I assembled the "Welcome Tooth Fairy" door-hanger for another little girl. I'll post pics when I get a chance.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas scent

I am very into "smells." I like the smell of "Christmas," whether it's pine- or cinnamon-scented candles (cranberry is good too!). Unfortunately a lot of the "seasonal" candles irritate Mike's allergies, so I have had to find an alternative. Lots of people do some sort of variation of a stove-top potpourri, but I started doing this particular "recipe" last year and really enjoy it, so I thought I would share.

In a saucepan, combine the following:
  • 1 quart water
  • 5-6 cinnamon sticks (break some if you want)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 1/2 an orange, cut into quarters (you can squeeze some juice out into the water if you want)
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut into quarters (again, squeeze some juice if you want)
Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer. You can store the mixture in the fridge (covered) for a few days, just add some water when you put it back on the stove. Some of the ingredients (cinnamon and cloves) can be expensive, so just buy the cheapest available. You're not going to be eating it, so the quality doesn't really matter. I got one of those "restaurant" size containers of cinnamon sticks at the store because they were priced 2/$7, as opposed to the McCormick brand, which would have cost $4.99.

W is doing some fun new things. To name a few:
  1. Identifying (pointing, etc) certain body parts, namely arms, hands, nose, tummy and mouth
  2. Says "ga" for "cat" and "ba" for "ball"
  3. Says "da" for Dad and "ma" for Mom
  4. Points at kitchen cabinet when he wants food (this isn't necessarily a positive development)
  5. Follows some two-step directions (today I asked him to "Go get the ball and bring it to Mama", which he did)
  6. Gently pets his kitties and doggie
He's a busy boy!

Wintry mix

I need to go to the grocery store, but can't because the weather is too nasty. We are down to one pitiful banana. Mike and I ate the last grapefruit last night, W and I ate the last apple at lunch. This is pathetic! It's snowing/raining/sleeting outside and it's just disgusting. We are under a winter weather advisory until 11 tonight, so it doesn't look promising for a late-afternoon run to the store either. Looks like another night of cereal for dinner!
The entire right side of my Christmas tree is ornament-less right now. Between Kramer and W, I can't keep it decorated to save my life. I can't put the decorations back on when W pulls them off because then he gets the idea that it's fun to take them off and have them put back on again. I found him chewing on a gold glitter "snowflake" earlier today. God knows what kind of toxins he ingested.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas cheer

In spite of the continuing dreary weather, I am actually feeling somewhat chipper. I think I can chalk that up to feeling the Christmas spirit. Even though W doesn't know what is going on, he gets so excited about the Christmas lights that are up everywhere, including those in our house. We have them on our Christmas tree, as well as mixed with evergreen garland on top of the entertainment center (the LSU helmet lights add a nice touch, I think). Unfortunately he has figured out how to turn OFF (and therefore, ON) the tree lights. There is a little step-on button that sits on the floor that makes a satisfying "click" noise that he really appreciates, so a few times a day, our living room turns into a "strobe-lit club scene."
I am also feeling Christmas-y because I got my Christmas cards mailed today--all 93 of them! W helped me get stamps yesterday; boy, was that fun. The line at the PO was annoyingly long, of course. There was a woman there with a dolly of gifts, plus more stacked on a counter. She was ahead of me, but when she got to the counter and the clerk asked her if she needed to insure anything, she said yes, but hadn't filled out the form, so she had to go do that, and volia, it was my turn! Thus began the Choosing of the Stamps.
I am not a big fan of either Christmas design this year, but had settled on these:
Well, they were sold out. I don't like the other Christmas design this year AT ALL:

Well, these looked sort of Christmas-y...

And this just doesn't say "Christmas" if you know what I mean...
So naturally, I picked these:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A dreary day

I've been a little under the weather for the past week or so, which explains the lack of updates. It stayed cold all week, but this week should be warmer. My in-laws were here all week, so they were able to keep W pretty busy so I could get to feeling a bit better. When they left on Friday they took Eudora with them back to Mississippi. She is going to be living with my parents from now on since she can't really be around the baby. We just couldn't trust her.
I've gotten a lot of cross-stitching done recently. I did a birthday one for my friend's daughter's 2nd birthday, a "Welcome, Tooth Fairy" piece for another friend's daughter, and I'm putting the finishing touches on a "My 1st Christmas" ornament for my dearest friend's son who was born in March.
I couldn't fall asleep last night so I stayed up for a while reading a book I picked up at the library yesterday, The Pinball Theory of the Apocalypse, by Jonathan Selwood. It's pretty amusing and very brief. I'm about halfway through it. The book is about a disillusioned native Los Angeleno artist who makes her living painting reproductions of masterpieces and replacing the people in them with today's pop icons. Her work is favored by the nouveau riche who have enough money to throw around on original art, but not enough to acquire pieces by the masters. The narrator's life seems to be as unstable as the ground beneath her native city (which is plagued by a quake and aftershocks throughout the book). So far, she has locked horns with her art dealer/wannabe agent, lost her boyfriend of 6 years to a 16-year-old Latina Britney Spears, and been turned away from her apartment due to damage from the quake. Can it get any worse? Probably so; I have 100 pages to go.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Geaux Tigers

Victory for LSU? We'll see. January 7, 2008, 7 pm, Louisiana Superdome. It'll be televised on Fox.
It's a shame, though, that Mizzou didn't make it to a BCS bowl. Reason #29865 that the BCS system is dumb.
For a comprehensive schedule of bowl games, click here.

White stuff

We had some of the white stuff yesterday. Not much, just a light dusting. It was fun seeing W's reaction to his first snow experience. He liked "marching" in place on the sidewalk where it was a little icy, and therefore, crunchy. His Grandpa Bob helped him up several times when he slipped and wound up in a split. He wore his new snow boots, along with his heavy coat, mittens and hat. He was pretty cute.
I'm working on a "Birthday Blessings" cross stitch for my friend's daughter's birthday. She turns 2 mid-month, so I'm working feverishly to finish it and get it mailed to her in time.
We have our Christmas tree up and decorated. I got non-breakable ornaments so that W and the cats wouldn't be able to cause too much damage. It's decorated with burgundy and gold. I'll post pictures at some point; I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. We don't have any of our "special" ornaments on it because of W's penchant for curiosity. Those will have to wait till next year to go on display. I suppose I could hang a garland above a doorway and put them on the garland... That's a possibility.
I need a new tote bag. Of course, like every female I know, I have tons of bags, but (again, like every female I know) I have a "favorite" that I use all the time. I've been carrying the same Longchamp bag on and off since college. It's a great size; I can use it not only for a purse, but also for a W stash bag. However, I think it's time to mix it up a bit. So this is what I hope I get for my birthday. I think it's a fun color, and it's the perfect size for my needs. I could use it as an everyday purse, plus I could stash a book, Sudoku, or cross stitch project inside. Excellent!

Monday, November 26, 2007

News of the day

In no particular order, here are news items of the day that I find amusing/interesting:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Teeth


W has 12 teeth fully in, but is working on three or four more at the present time. He chews on his fingers constantly, but really (knock wood) isn't that fussy. I try to give him Infant Tylenol as rarely as possible, but I usually cave in around bedtime and dose him up then. I think it helps with the pain enough to where he can get decent sleep.
Speaking of sleep, he has slept "through the night" for the past three nights! He goes down around 8:30 or 8:45 and sleeps until 5-ish. I feed him a little, then he goes back to sleep until around 8. It's heaven!

This is huge

Huge kudos to Mizzou for their performance last night against Kansas. They've ascended to #1 in the BCS poll for this week (LSU trails at #5). At least one Tiger fan in the house is happy!

As for Nick Saban, I wonder what Alabama must be thinking at this point, considering his first season there ended with a 6-6 record and they are paying him about $4 million per year. What does that work out to per win? $666,666.66 per win? That's crazy!

W and I are enjoying our time here in Mississippi. It's wonderful seeing family and friends; we've seen some folks we haven't seen since last Christmas! It really is very hard being away from Mike for so long. We were able to see each other on Skype last night; W thought it was pretty cool seeing his daddy on the computer screen. He kept pointing and saying "Da!" which I suppose means "Daddy" even though he's never called Mike that in person.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A sad day

My Tigers lost in the 3rd overtime in the game against Arkansas yesterday. I am very bummed about this. Very very slim hopes of going to the BCS Championship bowl game. Huge bummer.
What is it about LSU and 3rd overtimes??
Here's what has to happen for to LSU actually going to the Championship. Again, a long shot, but you gotta have faith, right??
This is from TigerRant.com:
Although LSU’s 50-48 triple-overtime loss seemingly knocked the Tigers out of the hunt for the BCS national championship, LSU could still possibly make the title game, presumably against Ohio State, under the following scenario:

  • Missouri beats Kansas today, possibly by a large margin.
  • West Virginia loses one of its two remaining games.
  • Tennessee loses to Kentucky, allowing Georgia to reach the SEC title game.
  • LSU beats Georgia for the SEC title, possibly by a large margin.
  • Missouri loses Big XII championship game.

Voters in the Harris poll and USA Today coaches poll keep LSU ranked ahead of Kansas and the champions from the other BCS conferences except the Big Ten.BCS revealedThe final rankings will be released Dec. 2. The top two teams will play for the BCS national championship on Jan. 7, 2008, in the Louisiana Superdome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gotta love it

My dear friend Mama Can Can brought to my attention last night some news regarding the recent shake-up in the Jackson Police Department. Shirlene Anderson was removed from her post as chief of police and there has been quite a bit of confusion concerning her replacement. I haven't followed the story too closely, but the clip I want you to see comes from 16 WAPT News and shows Jackson politics and its best (aka, worst). Leave it to Kenny Stokes to take eloquence to a whole new level.
For those of you who are not from or familiar with the Jackson area, the video will probably not be very funny. For those of you who are, I think you will find this video quite amusing. Just watch it up to about a third of the length. You'll see the part that I'm talking about.
Oh, and for those of you who are familiar with certain former staff members of the Rankin Ledger, notice the "reporter" pounding the pavement behind Malcolm McMillian at the beginning of the clip (and at other points throughout). None other than (drum roll, please) Mr. Anthony Warren of the Northside Sun!

Thanks giving

It was nearly two years ago to date that Mike and I found out that were were going to be parents. I'll admit, I was a little suspicious of my "condition"prior to the pregnancy test, but I didn't voice that suspicion. We stayed Wednesday night with my parents because we had to leave super early the following morning to drive with them to Louisiana for my dad's family's to-do in Bienville Parish. I woke up at 5 that morning, restless, and nudged at Mike. "Psst," I said. "We need to go to CVS."
"Huh?"
"Get up, we gotta go get a pregnancy test."
"A what?"
"A pregnancy test."
"Okay. You think this is for real?"
"I don't know, that's why I need a pregnancy test."
So we left on our mission. My mom looked at us like we were crazy as we left the house. I can't remember what we told her we were going to get. Toothbrushes, I think. Something lame.
We got said test and returned to my parents' home. Let me tell you, taking a pregnancy test in one's parents' home is a little unnerving, regardless of the circumstances.
Of course I had pee-freeze (you know, when you gotta go, but you can't for some reason. So Mike was kind enough to run the faucet in the dressing area for me.
Sure enough, no sooner had I "completed" the execution portion of the test, a faint pink line began to appear. I set the test on the edge of the bathtub. Mike and I just stared at it.
"What's that?" he asked.
"It's a pink line."
"I see that. What's it mean?"
"We're gonna have a baby."
"Are you sure? It's not very dark."
We looked at the directions for the test, and of course it said that no matter how faint or dark the line is, a line is a line is a line and that means you're pregnant.
We were elated. We just hugged one another for a few minutes. Then we walked into the living room where my parents were sitting. My mom said, "What are you two up to? Y'all look like the cats that swallowed the canaries."
"Um, we have some news," I said. "Y'all are going to be grandparents."
You'd think we'd given my mom a million bucks. My dad, however, was off in his own little world (probably watching the Weather Channel). Mom said to him, "Rickey, isn't this great?" He says, "Huh?" Mom was pretty exasperated with him at that point. She repeated what we had told her. Dad got this goofy grin on his face and so sweetly (as only a Daddy can) said, "Oh, honey, I am so happy for y'all."
Talk about a great Thanksgiving! Having a child totally gives me new perspective. I find myself worrying about some things that I never even considered important and not caring about things that used to be the be-all-and-end-all. I find myself getting sentimental on a daily basis, thinking about how wonderful this little person is and what a miracle he is. I worry about the state of the world we have brought him in to. I don't worry about a little dust on my end tables. I worry about something bad happening to me or Mike and us not being able to take care of him. I don't worry if he makes a lot of noise in a restaurant. I worry if he's warm enough at night. I don't worry about losing ten pounds.
Priorities change. We become thankful for new things as we move into new life stages. Dust, a quiet dining experience and the perfect weight used to be top priorities for me. Not anymore. My little boy has opened my eyes to a whole new world. His daily changes keep me on my toes and I never get bored. He is a challenge, to be sure, but one that I meet with a willingness that I have never had for any other job in my life. His smiles and hugs are payment enough for me.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas shopping


Mike and I took care of the major Christmas gift for W last night at Wal-Mart. We were there anyway to get diapers and furnace filters (as I've said before, it's so fun being a grown-up because you can spend your money on whatever you want!!). It was already crazy with people, so we decided to knock out the major present for W... The Fisher Price Rock, Roll'n'Ride Trike. It's technically from his grandparents, but there wasn't any point in them buying it in Mississippi and shipping it to Jersey. We're going to put it together before Christmas and put a bow on it for Christmas morning. I'm going to wrap the box so that he can have fun tearing the wrapping paper off it.
W and I head south tomorrow morning. We have a 10-ish flight out of Philly, so we are leaving the house around 7 because of rush-hour traffic. I failed to take that into account when I made the reservation. I also failed to take into account the length of time we will be in MS--10 days! That is a long time to be away from home; it's going to be especially hard on Mike, I think, because he won't see his little boy (and doting wife, of course) for so long. But it will be good to see friends and family, and I am looking forward to some warmer weather.
It was gross out today. Didn't get above 40, and it was drizzly all day. I didn't even set foot outside. Mike and I both have colds (I think we got them from W; not sure who he got his from). It was one of those days that we popped the Elmo DVD in and put it on repeat. Mike even called in sick for work, and he NEVER does that. I've spent my day in my pajamas, doing laundry and packing for the trip. Not terribly exciting.
I'm hoping to get some stitching done this week. I just ordered some new patterns. Actually, it's 13 "Snippets" that I got off of EBay. It was a really good deal; separately they would be around $3 each, but I got the lot of 13 for $16, including shipping. Snippets are by Lizzie Kate and are just small, quick patterns to stitch. The ones I got in this lot include:
Maybe getting some new patterns will get me out of my cross stitch rut. I've not been stitching much at all lately because I was doing multiple pieces of the same pattern, which got a little boring. These promise to mix things up a bit.

Allegiance

Some of my readers have questioned my allegiance to the LSU Tigers. Allow me to explain how this came about for those of you who are in the dark.
Sadly, I was not raised with a particular team's colors pulsating through my veins. Both of my parents went to Millsaps, and while Mom got her masters from MSU and Dad got his from Texas, neither were die-hard fans. In fact, I don't think they even knew what a first down was. I always felt a little left out on Saturdays because of this oversight by my parents. But, I digress.
My choice of college didn't help my chances at finding a team to be faithful to. Come on, Smith is a women's college! Because I was in New England I didn't feel the peer pressure to commit to any team. However, on trips home, especially in the fall, I felt a little left out. I believe it was sometime in the fall of 2001 that I swore my allegiance to the LSU Tigers. There are three reasons for this, and I will list them in no particular order of import.
  1. I like the team colors. Purple and gold go nicely together.
  2. I needed a team to cheer for, and since both SEC teams in MS are (how to say this delicately....??) not good, I looked at our neighboring state's team. Hey, half of my family is from Louisiana anyway, plus I have land there. I can sort of claim it for that reason.
  3. A dear friend is a die-hard fan. To root against any team BUT LSU in his presence would be idiotic.
And there you go. The short and happy history of my fanship.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nick Saban=Waste of $$??


What?? Alabama lost to UL-Monroe?? Are you kidding me?? What must Nick Saban be thinking right now? I don't even know what to say.
And my Tigers pulled another fine win today against Ole Miss. Not a huge shock to anyone, but a good thing nonetheless. A friend of ours was lucky enough to (somehow) score tix to the game on the 6th row on the 40-yard line. He's a huge Tigers fan, so I know he was pretty pumped about the events of the day.
Mike's Mizzou Tigers pulled another win today as well. I am just holding my breath that the two Tiger teams don't face one another in the BCS National Championship matchup... Talk about a house divided!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Plan B

I am so bad about reading multiple books at once. I have by "by the couch" book, my "by the bed" book, my "on the kitchen table" book, etc. I wrote about my "by the bed" book earlier this week (Girls of Riyadh). My current "on the kitchen table" book is The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini--this is a book I can only take in small doses, as it is pretty gritty and dense. I have actually owned the book for several years and am now trying to read it again! I do that often... Start a book, get distracted, put the book down, pick the book up much later... I am determined to finish it this time, though. I have told myself that I cannot get Hosseini's new book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, until I finish The Kite Runner. TKR follows the lives of Afghan men; ATSS follows their female counterparts. Both describe life in Afghanistan following the fall of the Afghan monarchy, Soviet rule, and the rise and rule of the Taliban. Heavy stuff, for sure.
My "by the couch" book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. Lamott is among my favorite authors. Her take on God and spirituality is so close to my own; it is refreshing and reassuring to see that someone with such great faith can still have some doubts. She is incredibly honest (painfully so, at times) and says (writes) the things that many of us would be too afraid to say (write) ourselves. She isn't your run-of-the-mill Christian. She's a middle-aged, liberal white woman with dreds who lives in Marin County, California (the 2000 census reported that Marin Co. had the highest per capita income in the US) and calls herself a "born again Christian." Lamott truly thinks outside of the box and is truly a breath of fresh air.
I must warn you, however, that if you (still) like the president, you will probably not like Anne Lamott. She, to my great pleasure, rails on the Bushies, likening the "daily depression of life" under the current administration to a "dental x-ray apron." However, if you don't happen to agree with her politics, perhaps you can look past that and see Lamott's writing as a beautiful testament to faith and to the goodness that comes from loving your neighbors and (trying to) make the world a little bit better.
I was first introduced by Anne Lamott through a PBS documentary about her back in 2003. I had recently "graduated" from "Anorexic Camp" (Renaissance, which, btw, has been absorbed into Pine Grove and has a different name now). Anyway, I was in sort of a precarious state. I saw this special on PBS about Lamott and was immediately mesmerized by her. I went out and got Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith (1999), and I can honestly say that that book is one of the things that kept me going in the right direction in the early days of my recovery (Kitty Kramer played a huge part as well!). It's one of those books that truly "changed my life" and is near and dear to me. One of my favorite quotes of all-time comes from that book: "[S]pend less time thinking about what [you] see and more time thinking about why [you] see it that way." I think that is a good policy to have; it's important to put things into perspective, something I have a hard time doing sometimes.
One more thing about Anne Lamott... She has a new book out: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. I haven't read this one yet, but I know people who have and really enjoyed it. It's pretty high up on my "to read" list.

Heavy stuff

This morning I had to go to a Virtus training session. Virtus is a program of the Catholic Church intended to raise awareness and help prevent child sex abuse. This training is mandatory for any adult within the Catholic community who works with kids. Since I am a substitute teacher at the local Catholic high school, I was required to go (in addition to passing a background check). The session was very informative and I learned some good information that I think would be good to pass along to friends and family. All the information below comes from my participant booklet; I can get more information for anyone who is interested.
  • One out of every five adult women and one out every 10 adult men say they were molested as children
  • Only 11% of perpetrators are strangers to their victims; most are family members and friends
  • Fewer than 5% of children who report sexual abuse are lying
  • Things to look for in possible abusers:
    • always want to be alone with kids
    • would rather be with kids than adults
    • give (extravagant) gifts to children without the parent's consent
    • go overboard physically--tickle, wrestle, etc., an "unusual" amount
    • ignore the rules; don't think the rules "apply to them"; let kids get away with stuff parents wouldn't normally allow
    • say/show inappropriate things to kids (often to judge their reaction)
  • Make sure enough adults are involved in kids' programs
  • Listen and BELIEVE what your kids tell you
  • Be alert to the way your child says something (or nothing!). The way in which they say it can sometimes be more important than what they do (or don't) say.
  • Talk with your child about boundaries; you can treat this subject like you would any other safety rule
  • Teach your child the RIGHT words for their private parts. If your child (God forbid) becomes a victim and you are able to press charges, it is crucial that your child be able to give consistent, reliable testimony. Being able to call things by their proper name can make a child more credible, plus it will be more clear exactly what happened.
  • If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, confront the person. You don't have to have proof. Remember, this is the safety of your child you are concerned about.
    • How often have you heard someone say, "I had an uneasy feeling at the time, like something wasn't right." Adults must learn to pay attention to these feelings and communicate their concerns about situations that can put kids in danger. This can be difficult, but it's necessary.
Like I said, it's heavy stuff. But it's important to have it out in the open and raise awareness. We've got to make it less of a taboo to talk about, otherwise victims will remain silent and perpetrators will remain a threat.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Here kitty kitty

Check out this picture my dad emailed to me today. Yes, it's for real.

An exciting day

Today has been pretty exciting. First of all, W slept until 9 this morning! Granted, I got up and fed him at 3 am and 7 am, but still, 9 am is pretty sweet. He then took a nap from 10:45 until 12:45. Again, a very nice thing. Since he was in such a good mood, I decided that TODAY was THE DAY for his first "professional" haircut. Mike and I had trimmed the bangs and mini-mullet back in September, but it was really time for a real cut by a real hairdresser. Being the novice mother that I am, I took him to this place called "Snip Its" which is a hair cutting place just for kids. Everything is geared towards kids. Even the seats are kid-size (that detail will be important in a minute, I promise). So we go in and W can immediately tell that something is "up." He starts squirming. The hairdresser, an Indian lady named Marsha, was very friendly and introduced herself to us and talked to W for a few minutes. She even asked if I wanted to save the hair since it was his first haircut. I declined, since I had kept the little bit we trimmed off back in September. Anyway, the second I put him in the haircutting chair, he lost it. We couldn't even get the "seatbelt" on him. So I squeezed my "birthing hips" into this kid-size chair and held him throughout the haircut. He cried the entire time. He wanted nothing to do with the bubbles the assistant was blowing, nothing to do with the video on the screen in front of him, NOTHING to do with the dum-dum lollipop I (grudgingly) accepted for him to lick on (did he lick on it? NO!). The ladies assured me that each day kids come in and bawl throughout their haircuts. So when she finally finished we went to pay. When we had gone into the store I had checked the price list; $15.50 seemed a little high for a kids' haircut at the time. However, after seeing how good they were with him in his distressed state, I decided that they had earned every penny, plus the tip I left. It'll be a while before we go back, I think.
We then did our weekly trip to Wal-Mart. I had to get some curtains for our sliding door in the kitchen/dining room. We have match-stick shades in there but with winter setting in, Mike and I decided we needed something else to keep the cold out and the warm in. You can see an image of the curtains I got from the Wal-Mart website to the right. I got two pairs of panels since it's so much glass to cover. The rod I got was actually marked down from $16 to $5. When I got home I realized why--there was no hardware! Thank goodness I had some that would work in my basement.
While I was hanging the curtains I heard Kramer begin to meow. W was taking his nap, so I was pretty anxious to find the cat before he woke the baby. After opening every door in the entire house, I finally realized he was in the WALL. Yes, that's right, the wall. I remembered that I had closed the upstairs linen closet this morning to keep the cats out of it. We keep it closed all the time to keep the cats out because it has a small opening into the wall (don't ask me why??) that the cats can get into and then get in the walls of the house. Apparently Mike had opened the closet this morning to get a towel but hadn't closed it all the way. Kramer, ever the curious little kitten, pawed open the door and went into the hidey-hole. Sure enough, when 5 o'clock rolled around, he wanted his dinner, and let the whole world know it. I knelt in front of the closet for a while calling "kitty kitty" until he came out, meowing, purring and dusty. He gobbled up his dinner and is now sleeping soundly in his favorite chair. Crisis averted; I don't think Mike would have been too pleased about busting a hole in the wall to retrieve the cat.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Geaux Tigers!


My LSU Tigers pulled off another win last night in fine form. They started a little slowly, but got with the program and trounced Louisiana Tech 58-10. Mike and I listened to it on LSUsports.net. It wasn't on network TV; it was only shown on pay-per-view. The next two LSU games are on CBS. This coming Saturday (11/17), the Tigers travel to Oxpatch to play Ole Miss. The game is at 2:30 pm (CST). The following Saturday (11/23) is the last game of the regular season, with LSU playing Arkansas at Tiger Stadium at 1:30 pm (CST). LSU has clinched the SEC West title so they will definitely be playing in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, December 1, in Atlanta, at 3 pm (CST), also to be aired on CBS. The opponent is TBD, but will probably be Florida. That promises to be an exciting game, if the regular season match-up between the two teams is any indication.
Perhaps even more exciting than LSU's performance yesterday was Illinois' performance against Ohio State and (gasp!) Mississippi State's "Crooming" of Alabama. And what to think of Kansas' 10-0 season thus far? Granted, most of the teams they've played haven't been especially challenging, but that doesn't change the fact that they're ranked (as of last week) #4 in the BCS. Their real challenge will come in their match-up against Mizzou (as of last week ranked #6 in the BCS) in their final game of the regular season on November 24.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A good man

I don't mean to brag, but my husband is a good man. He pitches in with W, helps out with housework, etc. All with willingness and a smile. It's great. Needless to say, I was thrilled when, as I was putting W to bed tonight, I heard the faint clatter of dishes being put away. Fabulous.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tiny Dancer

W has learned how to turn around in circles. He has been doing it for a few weeks but up until now got a little freaked out about the dizzy factor. He's over that, apparently. Tonight he enjoyed dancing to some classic Aretha Franklin tunes.
video

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Are you kidding me??

This just turns my stomach.
On Thursday, November 1, 2007, US Magazine reported the following, based on recently-released court documents concerning the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline train-wreck. My comments are in puke green due to my disgust over these circumstances.
  • Spears earns $737,000 a month
    • "earns" must be applied loosely
  • She spends an average of $102,000 on entertainment, gifts and vacations; $16,000 on clothes; $4,758 on dining; and $2,500 on phone bills a month. She spends $49,267 on mortgage payments
    • I don't even know where to start for this one... What does she eat that costs $4,758 per month?
  • Spears contributes $500 a month to her charity, the Britney Spears Foundation
    • How kind of her.
  • There were no reports of any savings or investments within the court documents.
    • Stupid.
And, as the picture to the right demonstrates, Spears has no regard for those handicapped patrons of her tanning salon.

Moreover, US Magazine reports today that Spears has missed eight of 14 court-ordered drug tests. I'm no legal expert, but doesn't it seem like she should be thrown in jail for contempt-of-court?

Sign of the apocalypse


If you have bought this toy for your kid, THROW IT OUT. To cut costs, the manufacturer used a different chemical in the production of the beads... That chemical? GHB, aka, "date rape drug." For the full scoop, click here.

Keeping busy

I haven't been stitching much lately. Not really sure why. I'm in a bit of a funk with it getting dark so early. I am thinking about getting one of those lights that simulates sunlight. I have been working lots of Sudoku's and reading. One that I started last night is pretty interesting. It's called Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea. It follows the lives of four young (upper-class) Saudi women as they try to balance modern Western notions of womanhood with the traditional Islamic view. Not the best book I've ever read, but not too shabby either.
As for the best book I've ever read... Well, at least in my top 5 best books ever read... That would be Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton (edited by Helen Dick Davis). Sadly, the book is difficult to come by; I think it might even be out of print. Nevertheless, this book, if you can get a copy, will have you hooked at the first page. This book is the story of Mary Hamilton, who was born in Missouri in 1867, and her experiences in th
e Mississippi Delta. She was married at age 18 (while living in Arkansas) to a man 12 years older than she (and who had a "mysterious" past that he never revealed). She tells of cooking for dozens of men at the various lumber camps her husband worked at, as well as raising her own brood of kids. I think she was the first white woman settler in the area we now know as Parchman. The NYT book section has a good write-up of the book if you're interested in knowing more.
W's favorite book these days is Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins. It's hilariously illustrated (by Eric Gurney) with monkeys that look like beatniks. The book is actually mine from childhood, so it's sort of worn, but W doesn't care.
It got down below freezing last night. My impatiens finally kicked the bucket. I'll pull them out of their pots this weekend; it's too depressing to look out on the porch and see their little wilted stems.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wondering what to read?

We went to the library today. I got a (so far) great book from the new releases shelf. It's called Dandelion (by Catherine James). It's a woman's memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family, setting out on her own at age 13, and includes run-in's with a who's who of 60's and 70's pop culture. I'm only 50 pages into it, but it's fantastic thus far.

Good Stuff


November is here, and has brought with it appropriate weather. We've fired up the heat a few times at night and we've changed to a warmer blanket on the bed. W is sleeping in footed sleepers (don't you love those??). Mike and I are envious of his oh-so-fashionable jambos and want our own sets of them. Halloween has come and gone and everyone at our house still has their teeth--not a small feat when you consider how much candy has been around! W was a monkey. Very appropriate, if you ask me.

I've put the finishing touches on the cross stitch items that are going to Japan for Christmas.


This is for my niece. The earmuffs are little green pom pom's that I hot glued to the ornament.
The design is Lizzie Kate; it's part of one of the Tiny Tidings series.



This is for my nephew. He was born in March. The design is by Lizzie Kate.
This is for the whole family. It says "We wish you a Merry Christmas". You can't really tell from the picture, but there are little Christmas lights stitched for the "H" and a holly vine for the "S". The "I" is a candy cane stick. The design is Shepherd's Bush.

This is for my sister-in-law. It says "Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?" It's a Dolly Mama's design by Janlynn.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Feature

I've decided that I am going to start posting books I've recently finished or am currently reading, as well as my opinion of said book. Do with that information what you will. I will try to avoid spoilers.
I will also include W's current "favorite" book.
Just to prepare you, I am bad about reading several books at once. I am also bad about getting halfway through a book, saying to myself "this book is crap" and quitting the book right then and there. I go to the library every Tuesday (usually) so the contents of my bedside table library change pretty frequently.
Books I have recently finished:
The Worthy, by Will Clarke: As the back of the book says, you'll never look at a doughnut the same again. The same can be said for goats. This is a "ghost tale" of sorts that takes place on the campus of LSU. Frat boys run amok (well, more amok than normal). Entertaining and well-written.
Simple Genius, by David Baldacci: I couldn't finish this one. Too many sub-plots can ruin a book.
The Collectors, by David Baldacci: Again, too many sub-plots. I actually finished this one, but it was painful.
Books I am currently reading:
In the Walled Gardens: A Novel, by Anahita Firouz: This book is pretty good, but it's sort of hard to follow, as the names and places are foreign. I'm finding it hard to care much about the main characters. I might have to put this one aside for a week or so.
The Concise Guide to Sounding Smart at Parties, by David Matalon and Chris Woolsey: "An irreverent compendium of must-know info from Sputnik to Smallpox and Marie Curie to Mao." Priceless information for 14+ conversation situations, including The War Conversation, The Sports Conversation, and The New Frontiers Conversation. This sort of book is right up my alley.
W's current favorite:
Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton: In truth, the perennial favorite of W. Mike and I often do a "dramatic interpretation" of this one, much to W's delight.



Beautiful Weather

The weather outside today is delightful. After going to the library, W and I went to the park. He enjoyed running across the soccer fields and climbing on the benches. They have a scaled-down play structure that he enjoys climbing on. After about 45 minutes of playing, I said, "Hey W, let's go bye bye and go home for nap." He got off the play equipment and started walking away from it. No crying, no whining. It was great. On the way to the car he noticed his shadow. This isn't the first time he's noticed it, but it was the first time he's really been mesmerized by it. He started "moon walking" (walking backwards) so that he could watch his shadow. It was pretty cute.
We carved our pumpkins last night. I dug out all the guts before Mike got home. I had one of those "kits" that comes with the "saws" and patterns. I broke one of the "saws" while carving the small pumpkin (the skin was really tough!), and Mike broke the other "saw" while carving the big pumpkin that we got at Terhune. Our "bat" on the big pumpkin doesn't have any eyes. One of the neighborhood kids asked me "What kind of face is that?" and I said, "Well, it's not really a face... It's supposed to be a bat." He looked at me incredulously and shrugged his shoulders and walked off to play with his buddies. This is the kid who isn't allowed to go Trick-or-Treating. At his house they celebrate "Hallow-God". The family of five kids dress up like Biblical characters and swap candy with one another. Oh-kaaaay... As Mike says, fine if you don't want to Trick-or-Treat or ignore Halloween, but it's sort of weird to "celebrate" it but just call it something different. This kid, who's 5, is going to be an angel. He told me that his older brother, who's 10, is going to be Peter. Even though I knew who he meant, I asked him (bad me!) who Peter was. He said, "Um, he's from the Bible... He was friends with Jesus." Ah.
I also made the mistake today of mentioning that W was going to get a "bike" from Santa this year. Kid says to me, "Santa is dead." I'm sure that goes over like a ton of bricks on the playground. I said, "Excuse me?" He responds, "Yeah, Santa is dead. God hands out the presents. Santa died because he was old." Again, don't celebrate that aspect of Christmas (the "surprise" presents) if you don't want to, but don't just celebrate it under another name. It's sort of how we got those holidays to begin with... Started out as Pagan rituals, were commandeered by the Christians, who let the Pagans still have their holidays to keep 'em happy, but added a Christian theme to them to satisfy their own collective conscience.
I finished up several cross stitch projects a few nights ago. These are the items I'm sending to Japan. I have taken pictures of them but haven't uploaded them onto the computer yet. I'll try to get to that tonight.
But I digress.
Here is a picture of a piece I have finished stitching but have not done any finishing work on yet. The cat is part of a group of Halloween images that I'm going to use as part of a Halloween decoration for next year. I've started stitching seasonal ornaments. I've got kits for Halloween and Valentine's Day so far; I have to procure a seasonally-neutral "tree" or ornament display stand to put them on as seasonally appropriate. If anyone knows where I can get one, please let me know.