Friday, May 29, 2009

Letter from Mamaw.

My goodness, why am I not in Miami right now? I don't think I care when work may or may not slow down. I've waited two full weeks for it to pick up and nothing happened and I'm pretty sure my time would be better spent elsewhere.

Like with these people:

I got a letter from Mamaw yesterday. The only reason I checked the mailbox was because I was really, really hoping for a letter from Mamaw.

Man, I love her.

Since I know you're curious, here are the contents of the letter:
She starts out by saying that she hopes Cody and I are well and happy.

They really like Cody. They seem to think that his big belly should be hollow, because they're always disappointed that he doesn't eat more. They just keep offering more helpings and more helpings and more helpings.....

Terri (her granddaughter) and her family were going camping, although one of her daughters isn't a fan of the outdoors. They've planted sweet peas, tomatoes, and herbs in baskets that are thriving.

Mamaw's own planting endeavors aren't going as well, even though she has a big garden. A late freeze killed her strawberries, but she did set out some more plants and hopes that she'll have strawberries next summer. Her blackberries are doing well. The blades of her onion plants are hail-damaged, but the bulbs seem to be doing well.

They had 3 hail storms in 3 weeks, and it was raining on the afternoon she wrote me the letter.

She just finished a log cabin quilt for Terri, and had two tops for log cabin quilts ready for the great-granddaughters. And Shirley, her daughter, wants one as well. I'm sure she'll get them finished, but she's fond of pointing out that she's a little slower than she used to be.

Carl and Shirley are doing well.

Carl still mows lawns for "little old ladies" while Shirley visits them and sometimes runs errands for them. They "also help us a lot." Mamaw always seems certain that the little old ladies are older than she and E.A. are....

E.A. has good days and bad days. When she was writing the letter, he had been feeling good for a few days.


He'll have a new pacemaker put in in a few months. His old one's battery is low. I don't know how long he's had the current one, but I know he's been using one since 1994 or so. Mamaw said he won't be in the hospital long. I think she was trying to keep me from worrying. Some times he has trouble with his balance. They're both in their early 90s.

Mamaw said that she was doing very well, and that they would love to see us. I always mention in my letters that we'd like to come visit them. She also liked the Mother's Day card I made her.

Last summer was too long ago. I need to plan another visit soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I used the Old Picture effect

I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Tomorrow I'll go to the wedding rehearsal of these two.

This is Lynn and Nathan around Christmas time. They're going to be married and preach and live in central Arkansas. It's going to be great.

After the rehearsal, I'll go to a shower hosted by these ladies.

Alana and Celeste are bridesmaids and also hosted a holiday decor-themed shower in December.

Alana got married last year.

Mostly I wanted to include this picture (one of her professional ones) because I am at least 2' off the ground. But also because a lot of the happy people in this picture will also be at Lynn and Nathan's wedding.

I can't wait....

I'm also looking forward to seeing this lady.

This is Mrs. Joy, and she's Lynn's mom. She's a very nice lady and she and Cody really became friends while ironing tablecloths for Alana's wedding reception. We're looking forward to seeing her again.

I'm also looking forward to meeting this girl again.
She's a flower girl. I think she's going to take her wedding responsibilities very seriously.

I plan on wearing this dress.

This picture is from another wedding last summer. It was for one of Cody's cousins, and I'm posing with another one of the cousins.

And then on Saturday night, I'm going to try to see these guys play.


The Science of Sleep.
Vino's.
8 p.m.--you will be happy you went.

I'm also looking forward to Sunday, especially since I don't know what's happening that day. Very exciting, even though I'd like to have some more pictures to play with on photobucket.

Hope you have a lot to look forward to as well.

I steal pictures of babies

Let's talk about things that are pretty great, shall we?

I had intended to do a post about things I'm looking forward to (because this weekend has a lot to be excited about), but I'd like to share something that me happy right this very moment on this nasty-awful morning (the allergies are not my friend today).


I'm pretty sure you've already seen this picture:
Isaac, son of Erin

But I'm not sure about this one:
Egan, son of Kyle (Cody's cousin) and Anna

And I know you haven't seen this yet:
Travis, son of Joanna, best friend to Laine
Travis is such a giant baby, I didn't think any of the hats I made for him would fit. But Joanna posted this picture (along with some very cute others--Travis is a pretty boy!) and pretty much made my morning.

Cute baby: yes.
Arts and crafts involving yarn and ears: yes.
Natural lighting: yes.

That pretty much takes care of things.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sorry, no Robert or Chad

It's time for out-of-context hilarity, family style.

Enjoy:

Laine and Jen clean their room

Jen: I'm getting rid of this. I don't know why I have it.
Laine: Because it's Miss Piggy driving a pink car! It's mine now.

She makes a good point
Anna: I'm just glad he's normal and can see and hear.....you know, we're not raising a little Helen Keller baby.

He's right there if you're seeking
Spencer: Let me show you this picture on my phone.
Jen: It's not someone's messed-up knee, is it?
Spencer: Ha, no. Look, it's Jesus.

Cody and Sara ban each other from birthday parties*
Cody: Yeah, it's too bad you can't come. Maybe you shouldn't have banned me from your birthday next year. Because this started out pretty small, but now it's the talk of North Little Rock.

*The history
Mrs. Dicy: Why are Cody and Sara fighting again?
Mom: Cody didn't come to Sara's birthday party. I forget what he had going on...
Jen: He was helping Casey move.
Mrs. Dicy: I think that's pretty important.
[Sara's relatives laugh at her]

Jen and Laine clean their room, Part II
Laine: I'm sweating. I think I'm going to throw up. Jen, hand me the nozzle on the vacuum cleaner.
Jen: Do you want me to turn it on yet?
Laine: No, just let me get it over here. Ugh, this is the worst day of my life.
Cody: I'm going in the other room.
Jen: You don't think you can take a nap while we vacuum?

Mom acts like a mom, with fantastic results
Girl 1: When I was first learning to drive, I couldn't get my car backed up. So my mom and I switched and she backed it straight into a wall.
Girl 2: I think hurt my car, like, 3 or 4 times the first year I had it. It wasn't my fault, though. The first time definitely wasn't my fault. See, what happened was--
Mom: Sweetheart, were you driving the car when these things happened?

Except identical twins grew up in this house
Jessi: This is like the house I grew up in! Aw, they even have a sunken den!
Jen: Here's the living room.
Jessi: Awww!
Jen: Here's his parents' wedding picture...
Jessi: Awww...
Jen: Here's little Spencer in overalls...
Jessi: Hee hee!
Jen: Let me scoot this wedding picture so you can see Cody and Casey when they were 5.
Jessi: Aw--oh wow! Wow. I cannot get over how identical they were.

It's tough finding the right birthday card
Cody: I don't think Casey enjoyed his birthday card (monkey swinging from a tree) as much as I did. I gave it to him and he was like, "You know I'm not eight, right?" and I said, "No, you're 25! [begins laughing] Just like me!" Ah...that's great. [chuckles some more]

Jen is not the worst-looking person in the scenario, just wait
Spencer: So I missed Teddy's call and I called him back 10 seconds later and he didn't pick up.
Jen: Maybe it died.
Cody: Jen, that's absolutely horrible.
Jen: What?
Cody: That's his friend.
Jen: I said maybe the phone died.
Cody: Oh, I thought you said maybe he died.
Jen: No, I would never do that. That's horrible. You're deaf.
Casey: That's what I thought you said.
[Everyone else agrees and thought I said Teddy died. Poor kid.]
Mrs. Dicy: He better not have died, he's supposed to work tomorrow.

It usually goes like this
Sara: That dress makes you look like an old lady.
Jen: I'm wearing it to your wedding.
Sara: Oh, well, if you like it.....That other one was cuter. But I guess the colors will match well. That's fine, I guess.

Dinner at IHOP
Laine: Do you guys ever wonder if maybe you're autistic?
Jen: All the time.
Sara: I think maybe everyone is, just a little bit.

Who doesn't?
Levi: I do love a good parade.

I know he was making a joke, but I should not have laughed for as long as I did
Casey: I'm not looking forward to getting insurance again.
[Everyone murmurs about how that's going to be bad.]
Casey: Maybe, since I turned 25, I'll get a discount.

Jen and Laine host a wedding shower
Laine: Jen, what if no one comes to our party?
Mom: We'll make Dad and Chad come over and eat the snacks.
Sara: Look who's here?! [4 people]
Laine: Our party is a success!!!

We ready the living room for painting during an NCIS marathon
Dad: Oh, sorry to bother you.
Sara: Dad, I've never seen this episode before!

Laine spent the night
Dad: How was your houseguest?
Jen: I felt trapped in a real-life Duncan and Delores.
Mom: Poor Cody.

It probably does
Joanna: I think Travis has an ingrown toenail.
Mom: Just put some Neosporin on it.
Jen: You say that for everything.
Aunt Vicki: That's because it works on everything.

This is smart
Levi: Well, when I'm home I know Mom wants me to go to Best Buy because she doesn't like the salespeople.

Jen and Casey have yet to get comfortable
[Jen looks at Casey's plate]: Wow, you're barely making a dent in that.
Casey: Jen, I don't need your criticism.
Jen: But I give it.
Casey: Yes, freely. But that's okay. Not that it would stop you if it wasn't.
Jen: No...

Jen and Mom have their dumbest argument ever
Mom: Hey, at least I can hula hoop.
Jen: I can hula hoop!
Mom: Sweetie, keeping it around your waist for 3 seconds is not hula hooping.
Jen: I kept it going long enough for a picture! At least there were pictures of me hula hooping! I bet all those people saw pictures of us on Laine's facebook and I bet they all thought, "Oh, poor Gail. There are no pictures of her. Bless her heart, she must not be able to hula hoop." That's exactly what they were thinking.
Mom: I don't think that's what they were thinking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day weekend.

Um......my weekend.

Here we go:

On Friday, I rushed out of work to shower and change clothes. Cody and I went to the 2009 Catholic High School for Boys graduation. We got there relatively early and crammed ourselves onto some bleachers with Casey, their mom, and their grandma. It turns out the shower was unnecessary.

Fun fact about the Catholics: they don't believe in air conditioning.

I may be generalizing a bit too much.

But watching Spencer graduate was more than enough to make up for sitting in an un-air conditioned gym whilst surrounded by teenage girls for a couple of hours. He's a high school graduate--he checked, and he has a diploma. Then we went out to eat as celebration.

Saturday
I woke up at 7:30 because there are birds outside our window. I hate these birds. They're not that loud or anything, but if I wake up and hear them, I can't go back to sleep. So after a relatively sleepless Thursday night, I had a not-nearly-long-enough Friday night. So I cleaned the kitchen and did 2 loads of laundry and made some coffee and sorted through some of our files to pull out papers that we could burn at my parents'. After nearly 2 hours of this boredom, I woke up Cody and we got ready to go out to my parents' house.

I had thought that maybe I could sleep on the way out there, but Cody's eyes were bothering him. So I asked him to pull over and I drove out to the house.

We didn't accomplish nearly as much as we had planned. My mom had said she'd pay us if we came out and did some work on the house. I wound up cleaning 4 ceiling fans while Cody moved some boxes, and retrieved some boxes and helped my dad do some stuff with a fence. And there were delicious burgers. And strawberry shortcake. So we ate and visited and had a lovely time.

Then I cleaned some things and then the rain drove everyone inside. Mom and Dad decided now was the time to paint the living room. As they went back and forth over this issue, Cody decided that there was nothing going on, and drove to Cabot's Radio Shack to set up the voice mail on his phone. For whatever reason, he couldn't set up the voice mail and when he called the help number or whatever, they told him to go to the store and have the salespeople set it up.

While he was driving, Mom and Dad were doing a complete overhaul of their living room-painting plans and we drove the Home Depot to buy chairrails and base boards. Okay, we also had some Sonic. Cody joined us, and helped Dad to strap down 16' of baseboards to Chad's truck. And we had some Waffle House. I had a waffle and some bacon. I love Waffle House.

It must be said:
Waffle House > IHOP.

So went back to the house, and while Sara watched an NCIS marathon, Cody and I washed walls and Dad and Chad pulled boards off the wall. Once we had made the entire downstairs look like a tornado had ripped through everything, Mom said our work was done and that she appreciated our help. She even sent us home with money. I still don't know how that worked out. But the money almost covered all of our groceries for the week. So thanks!

We drove home. We fell asleep. We slept too late for church in the morning. That's sad because we go to the 11 o'clock service. Um....Cody made some Hamburger Helper type of food, only from scratch. We did some housework and went to the grocery store. He made a loaf of bread. Then we met up with his brothers to watch Star Trek. Yay Star Trek! I hate time travel, but it was still fun.

We went to Blockbuster and rented Season 3 of The OC and time-wasting commenced. Aside from Cody baking another loaf of bread, the evening was a beautiful period of doing absolutely nothing.

On Monday, I woke up even later than Cody. I felt so victorious somehow. We did some recluttering, had another not-so-great attempt at making strawberry jam, watched some more television, and went to bed early. Or at least that's how I remember it. It was a nice weekend.

Now I'll be messed up on my days all this week. And I'm a little sleepy and hazy. The birds woke me up at 5 this morning.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Public service announcement

Hello, friends. I know you're gearing up for Memorial Day weekend, so I'll make this quick.

Today, we will talk about something important. No, not honoring those who serve our great country. You were either going to do that or not already. I'm not here to tell you how to feel.

I'm here to talk to you about grill safety. Specifically, the need to perform leak tests if you are using a gas grill.

This weekend is a big one for grilling, and some of you may be observing this time-honored American tradition with brand new grills.

You know how the owner's manual (you should read that) talks about performing a leak check? You should do that. Seriously.

We bought a grill last year.

We did not perform a leak check. (Believe me, I tried to argue the case. I just want to make a record of that.)

So the valve or nozzle or something slowly leaked propane all night long and throughout Memorial Day after we built it. Then, when Cody turned on the gas to light the grill, the vapors ignited on a nearby citronella candle (or so the fire fighters speculated) and whoosh!, grill fire.

Cody and the grill before.


Grill after.

Cody after.


Now that I have your attention, here are Bob Vila's tips on how to conduct a leak check, straight from his obviously handy website:

Test the propane tank valve for leaks:
  1. Turn the grill control knobs on the front (and, on some models, the side) of the barbecue to the off position.
  2. Turn the propane tank valve fully counterclockwise to close it.
  3. Mix a test solution of equal parts of dishwashing liquid and water in a small container.
  4. To test for leaks, apply the test solution liberally to the connection between the regulator fitting and the tank valve using a small paint brush. Apply the test solution to the valve handle and threads, the length of the hose, and the connection between the hose and the regulator. If bubbles appear at any point, there is a gas leak.
  5. Tighten the connections and retest.
  6. If you still see bubbles at any of the tested connections, close the tank valve and replace the leaking component.

Test the hose fittings for leaks:

  1. With the tank valve open, brush the test solution on the fitting at the other end of the hose, located under the control knobs.
  2. Turn the control knob to high and test the hose and fittings leading from the control knob to the grill. Turn the right control knob to off. Repeat the process for the other control knobs.
  3. If you see any bubbles during any of these tests, close the tank valve and contact your propane dealer or your local gas utility. Do not use the barbecue until the leak is corrected.
Thank you, Mr. Vila.

I hope this helps and that your weekend is safe and happy and fun and yields absolutely no pictures like this:





Also, I know it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: please don't drink and drive. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My workday is already more interesting than yours

Today is Duggar Wednesday Skirt Day.

You know about the Duggars, right?

Right.

So, I have been having fun little discussions with one of the temps here, Ateca, about the Duggars ever since that amazing wedding special. If you're Arkansan, you're probably familiar with them just because the poor mom makes the news every time she gives birth. Well, now they're famous with their own cable TV show because if all the other freak families can turn a profit off of their freakiness, why can't the wholesome and freakishly happy Duggars join the fray?

Ateca is now obsessed with them. Seriously. She watches the show every Tuesday night and gives me updates every Wednesday. She thinks we should bust out some super long skirts and make the trek to NW Arkansas just to visit the Duggars. She says she would even get extensions put in so she could make a good impression with long hair.

So, a week or two into her regular Duggar-watching routine, we realized that Ateca was more likely to wear a skirt or a dress on Wednesdays after watching the Duggars the night before. The power of suggestion hasn't been strong enough to make her want dozens of children, or to start her own orchestra. But it does put one in the frame of mind to pull a dress out of the closet.

We don't get a lot of excitement around here. So Duggar Wednesday Skirt Day was born. We have worn prairie skirts. We have worn Easter outfits. We have worn uncute and out-of-date outfits for the sake of modesty and authenticity. I have even worn this:

Okay, so I throw on some not-cute outfits just because. But I love this dress because I'm a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, even though my sisters told me not to buy it. One fine DWSD, I wore this dress and people later asked my old supervisor if I was expecting. Ateca graciously let me 'win' that day.

Anyway, Duggar Wednesday Skirt Day has been a pretty exciting event that perks up the middle of the week--even on the weeks when we're the only two people celebrating.

BUT:
For the past month or so, Ateca has been encouraging our boss to wear his kilt on DWSD. Because....he has a kilt. I really don't know why. But sometimes he wears it.

Like today.


Yup, he won this week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This is by no means complete

Words I Do Not Like
personal
tore
sciatica
yummy
pearl
eschew
drank
eccentric
effort
consonant
duplex
veneer
champagne
precious
best
obnoxious
tunes
politics
blogged
crochet

Words That Are Perfect
vague
whack
fine
proud
inside
lyrical
friend
baby
fry
table
kenning
forehead
estimation
braid
words
edge
lo



Words I Want to Use More
ostentatious
sphere
familial
document
acre
eschatology
lemon
posthaste
verdant

Monday, May 18, 2009

I had a weekend.

I enjoyed my weekend.

It was wonderful, even though I don't think we did very much.

On Friday, we looked at an apartment. Afterward, I asked Cody to take me out for coffee. Then we went home and had dinner and watched television and went to bed at a not-entirely-reasonable hour. Yay coffee....

On Saturday, we dropped off recycling and went to the farmer's market and bought food and had dinner at the restaurant. Then we went to the library and I checked out The Incredible Hulk and Savages. (They were both pretty good!) I took a nap. We went to look at another apartment, but couldn't really....find it....or the guy who said he was standing by a building.....and he wasn't....because we were. So Cody called and canceled and we ran away quickly. Creepy. Then we ate some food and saw The Science of Sleep play at Soundstage's battle of the bands. We were not on top of things--no camera, no earplugs! Spencer was a champ and found some earplugs for me. They were great and after they played, we watched some drama unfold in the streets (literally, in the middle of the road. It was your standard mother/child parallel parking debacle), and bought some cheap Conway gas and went home.

Have you been to Conway since this Kris Allen thing started happening? I think they may have named him mayor or something. His name is scrawled over everything. Schoolchildren may be pledging allegiance to him now. It was a little unnerving. Ahem.

On Sunday, we went to church. Jeff called me while I was trying to worship God, but I had my phone on silent. We bought groceries after church. We ate pizza. We did some more laundry and watched a movie. Then we went to our friend Sarah's house for a belated birthday party. She didn't mind the lateness because Jeff and Brad brought an ice cream cake. Her baby spit up on Cody and me. He was really cute, though, so it was okay. It was a nice Sunday afternoon affair.

In the evening, I talked to Levi while Cody made salad and spaghetti. We now have enough spaghetti to feed us for the rest of the week. (And what did I bring for lunch today? Chili.) I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed and Cody put sheets on the bed while I put away clothes. And Cody made a loaf of bread somewhere in there. We watched some more Star Trek DS9 on DVD because Cody checked out the entire first season from the library (sadly, one of the reasons I really, really, really love the library is because it has free movies. And by "free," I mean "We've already paid for them") even though I don't think it counts as a legitimate Star Trek.

Then we went to sleep and overslept by a lot, although I wasn't late to work by a lot. I had completely been prepared to say that the cold slowed me down on my way to work if anyone asked about my (slight) tardiness.

But they didn't.

I hope you're staying warm right now. 51° is far to cold for a mid-May morning.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some things are great. Some are not.


You know what's not cool? Thinking you're amazing for enjoying eighties music. Of course you do, you lived through the eighties. It's not like you spent the decade running around bemoaning, "Arrrrgh! Eighties music is so terrrrrrible!"--you didn't know better. The fact that you still remember the lyrics isn't impressive. It just gets the rest of us a little closer to guessing your age.

You know what else isn't cool? Giving me the choice between two options, and then being irrationally mad when I pick what is apparently the 'wrong' one. Um, if you want me to do whatever you want, then tell me to do that. Duh.

Another thing that isn't cool at all? Giving me the email equivalent of a verbal slap-down when you try to appear terse and professional in your replies to my legitimate questions when we watch you all swear and make unfunny jokes and act in a generally unimpressive and unprofessional manner.

BUT:

You know what is cool? And wonderful? And amazing? And great? And beautiful?

The weekend.

The weekend holds such wonderful promise of time spent with Cody, drinking coffee at my leisure, visiting with family and friends, taking pictures, accomplishing errands with a routine that helps me fall asleep peacefully in a freshly vacuumed apartment. The promise of a happy weekend with minimal exposure to computers and fluorescent lights and people I enjoy is what lures me through a week under fluorescent lights in front of computers while I'm surrounded by people I do not enjoy.

Throughout the week, I can be happy in the knowledge that for two glorious days, my time was my own. That I went to the farmer's markets, church, the library. That I finished that book. That I saw that movie. That I took that nap. That I most likely spent more time with my very own husband than anyone else and we walked and planned and laughed and slept and baked and cleaned together.

It is pretty much the only thing that is keeping me polite and sane at this point.

And now it's only 30 minutes away.

Family is important.....or something

Is it weird that I just sent Laine a text message about some blogs that we both follow?

It's probably weird.

I do love the blogosphere, though.

And family.

I had some whole blog planned out in my head. I composed on my way to work this morning. It was all about how I kind of love the recession and how this country is getting back to trying to make smart purchases, and mostly that I love it because it frees me up to be myself at my most alarmist and tight-fisted.

But then I changed my mind.

Also: is it weird that Laine just texted me back to let me know she already knew about the blog news I just told her?

Okay, probably.

It's also probably a little weird that I may be doing a little shopping this weekend and that I'll probably take Cody's phone with me so I can take pictures of myself in possible outfits and send pictures to my sisters for their votes/approval.

Or at least that's what Cody said.

Granted, Cody's developed a weird and insatiable craving for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this week and wanted to call Casey last night to see if he felt the same way, so he may not be the best judge of what constitutes weird behavior among siblings.

Is it weird that my sister Sara made a t-shirt for Cody's brother's band that says "I ♥ Spencer" on the back with glittery letters even though she's never been to one of their shows? Maybe.

Was it inappropriate for Spencer to send me a link to an article about two sets of identical twins getting engaged and planning a double wedding (even when they sometimes can't tell each other apart) when he knows how terrifying and wrong twins are? A little. Probably not.

Is it sad that Dallas gave our mom the first (and probably favorite) Mother's Day gift this year? Sad only for us.

She was very excited with her stationary set.

Is it strange that I was excited that she used some of this stationary when she mailed me pictures of Sara and Chad's engagement pictures? No. I like flowers and butterflies.

Is it strange that Dallas always gets just the right gift? Yes, but no one minds. He's a little uncanny in his ability to read people, but he's been doing this since he was 3. Besides, everyone enjoys thoughtful gifts.

Is it weird that Laine keeps telling people Casey has been to prison when he really hasn't? Definitely yes.

Is it a little odd that Cody's family and my family know everything that's going on with the other family? I don't really know. It's probably only slightly odder that my friends know all about my family's big events, and vice versa, solely by looking through my facebook pictures.

Is it weird that Levi got a headset for his phone so he can have both hands free when he calls Dad on his drive home every single night? Because I think it's smart.

You'd do stuff like this with your brother-in-law, right? Especially if your sister/his wife was the one taking the picture, right? And everyone was sober?

If you were Sara, would you tell Cody every time you tried to cook something new? I know I would. And she does.

Is it weird for Chad and Mom to have chickens together?

Is it odd that Dad consistently tells me to be a better wife to Cody, when he's never been a wife? Actually, the whole family keeps telling me to be nice to Cody. What do you think that means?

I know for sure that it's not weird for Laine and I to have a shower for Sara in Karen's house. Karen is Dallas's mom. Some people might say it was weird that we went in there before Karen came home and started decorating and letting other guests in. But she said it was okay.

Is it weird that Mom tried to pretend she didn't know us when Sara and I got into a scuffle at a Starbucks last year? I think that one might be weird.

I also think there may be some other things wrong with that sentence.



I hope you spend some time with your family this weekend. I bet you'll have a great time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Smile for me


This is just to say

that I love these pictures

because I love you
and they always make me smile.
So thank you

for letting me get very close to your face
and for being in my pictures.

That is all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My mother has children

As you may already know, yesterday was Mother's Day. The aftereffects of this special day are apparently still lingering throughout the office because people at work are talking about motherhood being so special and how they're such big deals because they once birthed babies and they voluntarily took on the raising of children and it turned out to be difficult and blahblahblah.

It's not that I'm bitter, or anti-motherhood. I think I was just cranky because they were blocking the microwave and my TV dinner wasn't about to heat up on its own.

And frankly, if I have to hear a mother carry on about motherhood being an amazing experience and how her children are so great, I'd prefer it be my own mother. She can talk about how great her kids are as much as she wants and I'd be fine with it.

Speaking of my own mother, I like her a lot and we had a nice day with her yesterday.

Here are her cards.

The card on the far left is from Sara.

This is Sara.

Sara is Mom's third child, and the last of the girl babies. She's getting married in less than a month. She has Mom's freakishly perfect teeth, and began borrowing Mom's purses at a very young age--probably before her second birthday. She likes to buy cards for people that are funny, somewhat crass, and she gets really excited if the person on the card looks a little like one of us--especially if the card is for Mom.

The card just next to Sara's is from Laine.

This is Laine.

Laine is very special and we love her. Her affinity for long shorts, seen in this picture, reminds me of Mom's style when we were little. She is Mom's second baby, and was the largest of all of us. She likes to give pretty or interesting cards. This year, the bouquet of flowers on the front was a separate piece of paper, topped by a glued-on ribbon. I've noticed that Laine's cards to Mom are typically layered.

The middle card in front is from me.

I'm Jen.

I am the first baby. Also, I was, and still am, the smallest child. This means I can borrow Mom's old clothes. I look like Mom at this age, only I don't wear eye make up and I have Dad's knuckles. And she would probably want me to point out that I'm wearing my own top in this picture. I'm tight with money, and enjoy making things, which means I make my own cards most of the time. I especially like to do this for family. This year, I used stamps (Mom bought me my first stamp, actually). The tree in front is for Mom. The other four trees are for us.

The card behind mine and to the right of Laine's is from Levi.

This is Levi.

I mostly picked this picture because he wasn't here for this weekend's hula hoop photo shoot. And because, in this picture, he looks a little different than what you'd infer from his Mother's Day card requirements. Levi prefers something upbeat, with Snoopy and/or glitter on it. He hates glitter and calls it "the herpes of crafts" but once he gave a card to Mom with glitter on it and she said it was very pretty. So he keeps doing it because it makes a card look really happy. If the card looks happy, people are usually happy to receive it. He is the baby of the family, and our one and only boy. He mailed his card on Wednesday and it was the first card Mom received on Mother's Day. Like Mom, he has very particular guidelines for picking out a card.


I hope you enjoyed your day, Mom.
We love you!

PS: The card on the far right is from Dad.
PPS: All pictures were graciously provided by Laine's digital camera, and are wonderful examples of the amazing and talented children Mom has raised. I am sure she felt a great swell of pride looking through this post.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Good things

Just a few thoughts I'd like to share with you:
  • I had U.S. Senate Bean Soup leftovers for lunch. Fantastic.
  • Laine and I are making plans for a shower for Sara.
  • This weekend is looking really full and I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. Lots of friends, lots of family, lots of holiday. And I'm taking Laine to the farmer's market. We'll carry canvas sacks!
  • This:

is currently my favorite picture of Cody. He got a hair cut a while ago, so his neck is a little bare. I love his neck when it looks like it does in this picture. He's such a handsome gray-headed man.
  • I had banana nut bread for breakfast.
  • We bought some kind of herb plant at the farmer's market this weekend (basil? sage? rosebush?) and Cody planted it a couple of days ago. He decided to bring it inside because bugs were eating the leaves. So he opens the blinds every morning before he leaves for work now so that it can get enough sunlight.
  • If you haven't mailed a Mother's Day card yet, you probably should. Time is short.
  • I've decided on two separate occasions this week that I was going to return a library book without reading it. One book had too-small print. Another was sticky. Back you go!
  • My new favorite thing to do on facebook is to hide people's status updates in the newsfeed. I can even block updates for whole applications! Okay, I know this option has probably been around for a while, but I've only started using it in the last couple of weeks. Whiners, misspellers, and dramatic people--off you go!
  • I got to drive into work through the fog, which I actually liked because it was so pretty. And now the sun is shining! Definitely an exclamation mark day.
  • Have I mentioned lately how much I love stamping and coloring and card-making? Because I do.
  • What's a good graduation gift? Aside from cash? I feel like nothing will ever top my gift to Levi: two Rubbermaid containers filled with cleaning products--one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom--with detailed instructions on how to use them and miscellaneous cleaning tips. I felt like such a good big sister when I put that gift together.
  • I can't believe I spelled "miscellaneous" right on the first try.
  • Now I'm eating banana nut bread for a snack. Is it okay to say how much I like my own cooking? Cody does it. Here goes: I like my own cooking.
  • I hope you're having a good afternoon. And that you like your own cooking.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Afghan making time!

Arts and craft project:

Okay, kids. I said I would write about how I made the afghan and now I will.

I used Lion Brand's Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn because it had bright colors, and the yarn was washer and dryer-safe in addition to being thick. So I knew I could use big needles and big yarn and make the afghan in time for the wedding (and it would be super warm). I picked the colors Sky Blue, Raspberry, Lemongrass, and Pumpkin for my colors because....that just seems Sara-like.

I used size 19 knitting needles to make squares that were 16 stitches and 24 rows. Each skein of yarn yielded around 4 squares. So I bought 3 skeins of each color, knowing that having extra green yarn (for some reason, I always have some of this green yarn around) would help me out when I needed 1 extra square. I didn't know that I would wind up short 1 blue square, but hey. What's life without surprises?

Anyway, I knitted 49 squares. And I blocked them to make this project a little bigger.

After messing around with some graph paper and solving the missing square crisis by messing around with some more graph paper, I came up with this pattern.

I like symmetry and I like that rows 1-3 and 4-7 mirror each other.

I sewed strips of 7 squares, and then sewed those 7 rows to each other. I kept track of which rows were which by tying little tags (scrap paper with a number on it) at the top of each row.

I had intended to throw this in the washer and dryer to let the fibers stretch and settle and (I would hope) assume a more uniform shape, but I was a little concerned about time. Also, I don't know if you've ever thrown an afghan in the dryer, but if you do.....check the lint trap. Often. Holy smokes.

So. That is how I made the afghan. Now you know, in case you want to try it yourself.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This beats the standard ugly potholder

I have plenty of things I want to say about this weekend, but I'm going to talk about just one thing.

This:


Yes, please ignore my deer-in-the-headlights look. The important thing to notice is that Sara is happy with the afghan I made her. See that afghan? I may have told you about it. I've been scheming since some time in January (back when it was afghan weather) about making what seems like the perfect gift for Sara and Chad.

First I found the yarn. Then I bought some of it (I bought it in phases. I'll be blunt: this afghan was not cheap.) and started playing around with stitches and rows to get the block size that I wanted. Then I figured out how many squares I could get from a skein and how many squares would make a decently sized afghan for a couch.

And then I knitted.

Through January, February, and parts of March and April (I started to feel a little burnt-out after a while and took some breaks), I knitted.

I had enough squares to make a design on some graph paper two weeks ago.

Then, last week, I realized I was short one blue square.

Panicked sweating ensued.

So, on Wednesday, I pulled out my squares again and laid them all out on the living room floor with obsessive concentration and found a new pattern.

And then I began sewing together strips of 7 squares.

And kept sewing together.

Then I sewed the 7 strips to each other. That took 2 and a half movies. I took a break in the middle of Saturday afternoon to run to the library for more movies and to Hobby Lobby for some more yarn.

I finished at 9:30 Saturday night. I immediately made Cody take me to Target because I'd forgotten to buy a gift bag.

I gave the gift to Sara at 1:45 Sunday afternoon and Laine took this picture.


Chad texted me a little after 8 to let me know that the afghan was already in his house and he was enjoying it on the couch at that very moment.

I called my brother Levi around 8:45 and as we talked, realized I had just given an afghan as a present for a June wedding.

Sigh.

Levi tried to make me feel better by saying that if he ever found a girl and wanted to marry her, he'd ask for a long engagement so I could have more time to make a present for them.

After I finished the afghan and before I stuffed it into a gift bag, I took a picture of it completely flat on the floor. I'll probably be able to post that tomorrow and I'll include instructions just in case you're interested. Basically, I'm just going to try to get a lot of mileage out of this project. I'm pretty proud of it.

I forgot to tell Sara that I'm re-giving her the afghan at her next shower.


I don't think she'll mind.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April books

Congratulations, you made it through the cruelest month.

As your reward, I will treat you to the list of books I finished last month alongside my unhelpful reviews.....just like I do every month.

DeLillo, Don. The Body Artist. New York: Scribner, 2001.*

I like the way Don DeLillo writes, but 800 or so pages of good writing is still 800 or so pages to slog through. So I checked this out solely because it was 124 pages. I liked it. It was sad and disturbing, but good.

Hamilton, John Maxwell. Cassanova Was a Book Lover: And Other Naked Truths and Provocative Curiosities about the Writing, Selling, and Reading of Books. New York: Penguin.

My friend, Kelly, gave this to me as a college graduation present. I thought it was time for a re-reading of this lovely book about books. Those are some of my favorite ones.

Rice, Anne. Pandora. New York: Ballantine, 1998.

It was entertaining bedtime reading.....and then you fall asleep.

Vowell, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates. New York: Riverhead, 2008.*

Doesn't live up to the hype, but I still really enjoyed it. The way Vowell writes makes the casually informative feel of the book really fun, but I don't know how well it will wear 3 or 4 years from now. The contemporary references and comparisons are a bigger detractor than a help, which is a shame.