Sunday, December 27, 2009


As much as I love living in North Carolina with it's easy access to mountains and beaches, I do miss being near my family back in Texas. Especially when the holidays roll around. We've gone back a few times over Christmas, but we usually end up staying here. This was one of those years that we stayed.

The biggest question about staying is what to do for the holidays. One nice thing abut Charlotte is that many people here are transplants and we have many friends who, like us, have no extended family nearby to visit. We've always had one set of friends or another to celebrate with. This year, we hung out with our other Southern friends.

Two days before Christmas, we spent the afternoon playing games and staying for dinner with the Hines family.

Christmas Eve, we spent the evening with the Hines over at the Jinks house.

Christmas Day, we all met over at the Hines house with another family and some extra teenagers and had a fabulous fun-filled day.

But first, we had presents at our house.

They look so calm here. Actually, it looked more like this.

L loved the Webkinz she got from her sister and they both shrieked with joy over the Webkinz they got from Grandma and Grandad and Aunt Bethany and her family.

The girls both got books in their stockings - a simple Barbie one for L who is learning to read, and Encyclopedia Brown #1 for K, who is already finished and has asked for more.

I just think this one is cute.

When we got to our friends' house,the first thing Tracey and I did was make chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy for lunch. It was Everyone stuffed themselves and we took the leftover meat, cut it into bite-sized pieces and served it with the gravy as a snack.

I did mention we're all from the South, right? Except Tracey, who's from upstate New York, but she's an honorary southerner.

The children played.

The grown-ups played.

(Did you know that even if you're wearing a sleeveless white t-shirt and overalls that if you turn your hat backwards, you can look like a skater? Yeah, me neither.)

The grown-ups played with the kids.

(L and Miss Jodi practiced for their debut as almost-Chinese acrobats.)

The children settled down to watch movies.

L used their dog as a pillow. He was very patient.

We had a chocolate fountain.

(I didn't get any pictures. I was too busy dipping.)

We had a fabulous time just hanging out.

And by the end, we all felt like not-so-little Miss Cindy Jae.

Worn flat out.

It was wonderful day spent with our family-away-from-family.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This week is Parent Observation Week at L's dance studio. They've been working since September on their skills and it was time to show them off.

L takes dance two days a week. We started off with two classes on one day, but that proved a bit too long for a 5-year-old to focus in the late afternoon. Also the teacher told me L was too advanced for one of her classes and was consequently acting up a bit, so we switched up the schedule and everyone is much happier.

Monday's class is a jazz/hip-hop combo. It seems to involve lots of jumping and shaking and pointing of toes. The girls showed off their stretching routine (it looked like a hard-core yoga class), some of their individual skills, and then they performed a little dance they'd been working on. L has been in this class for about 4 weeks, but she held her own with the other girls who've been working on this stuff much longer.

L is extremely flexible. That knee grab may look impressive, but I've seen her sitting watching TV with her knees behind her shoulders like it was nothing at all. Even her teacher is amazed at how that child moves and twists herself into knots.

Now *this* is impressive. Straight legs. Toes pointed. Arms thrown out to the sides. Fingers carefully together. A perfectly executed leap.

I'm almost just as impressed that I managed to capture this shot so well.

The final pose of her class' dance. Is she sassy, or what?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Getaway Trip

This time last week, I was standing around holding some heavy books in one hand, fanning myself with a piece of paper in the other, wearing a wristband on my wrist, and waiting in a store full of people to meet Pioneer Woman.

It was awesome.

I packed my things and left for Atlanta Monday morning. I made a stop or two on the way down, including an outlet mall that I had always stared at longingly every time we passed it, but I'd never stopped there. I went in every single store I wanted to and looked at everything I wanted to without interruption. Ahhhh....

I checked into a hotel and dropped off my bags, then it was out the door to find the bookstore for the signing and some dinner. I was over 2 hours early, so I browsed through the Target across the street, grabbed a hot dog from the snack bar, and made my leisurely way over to the bookstore.

Where the parking lot was packed.

Seriously??? It was still 1.5 hours until the signing started. I parked on a lower level and went in the bookstore to discover that they had moved the signing up and I was getting there exactly when it started. Oy. I got my book, got a wristband, and headed upstairs to find a very disorganized "line" and soon Pioneer Woman walked in with her sister, her friend Hyacinth, and some employees acting as security. With all the flashbulbs going off, you would've thought we were the paparazzi.

I soon had the wristband system figured out and discovered that as a Green-B, I was near the top of the list, but there were a TON of people in the first category and it was 4 hours before I actually got my book signed.

Since there was no "line" until your category was called, everyone sat or walked around. They were browsing and knitting and feeding their children. I found a book and read all but the last few pages before I was called to go get in the "official" line. It was fun talking to different people and getting to know some of the others brave enough to come out to the signing.

At last, I was there.

And Ree is as gracious in person as she is on her blog. We had just a couple of minutes to talk as she signed and she loved my excuse that it was a business trip. Then I was shuffled over to another table to pick up a t-shirt (they only had mediums) and I got to talk to Betsy and Hyacinth for a little bit. They are just as awesome as Ree and I had a fabulous time doing the book signing.

I made it downstairs just before they closed the registers at 10pm to check out a couple of Christmas gifts, then I headed out in search of somewhere I could get a drink and snacks. I finally found a CVS and loaded up on some choice gourmet selections and drove back to my hotel to do this.

That's what I consider a perfect quiet night alone.

I actually went to bed shortly after midnight, got up fairly early Tuesday morning and checked out to start meandering my way back toward home. The first stop was for a little breakfast at my friend's new shop, Dutch Monkey Doughnuts. And they were awesome!!

If you ever find yourself near Cumming, GA, go see Arpana and her husband Martin and their awesome doughnut shop. Order one of everything on the menu and you will be so happy you did.

A couple more quick stops rounded everything out and I made it home where I was glad to see my kids, the puppy, and especially Mr. at Home. I had a wonderful time alone, but I was happy to be home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The puppy has rocked our world

There are lots of things I knew about having a new puppy, but knowing is not KNOWING and you don't get to KNOWING until the puppy comes home.

And chews up everything she can get hold of.


Wires. Couch arms. Office chairs. Highlighters. Boxes. Drumsticks. Books. Leashes. Tape dispensers. Christmas pins.


We finally were told about bitter apple spray and that has helped. We moved the bookshelves out of the loft where she's confined behind a baby gate. She's spent time in her crate and on a tie-down, which she's not too happy about, but it does keep the destructiveness down some.

On the upside, she's a lot of fun. She's very well behaved except for the chewing thing and loves to play and go places. She's cute and cuddly and makes us exercise a bit more with all the walking.

Which reminds me. One more trip outside and let's hope we wake up to a clean crate in the morning.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting ready

The girls' schoolwork is planned, printed out, gathered together, and placed in their folders ready to go for the next two days.

The prayer and praise sheets have been typed in and emailed out to my Sunday Bible Study class.

A new roll of doggie bags has been put in the dispenser that hangs on the leash.

My clothes are washed and ready to be tossed in the dryer.

And I'm about to go relax and spend the evening with my wonderful Mr. at Home.

Bright and early tomorrow morning - I'm off!

I'm packing a bag and my camera, turning the radio up loud, and heading down to Atlanta for a couple of days of rest, rejuvenation, and a book signing by one of my favorite bloggers. I plan to stop at an old friend's new doughnut shop and enjoy creations made by a highly talented pastry chef and her chef husband. I plan to get in a little Christmas shopping. I plan to turn off the to do list and the responsibilities and the availability for a little while.

Mostly, I plan to enjoy myself. I'm looking forward to meeting The Pioneer Woman and chatting with a bookstore full of women.

But for now, I'm heading downstairs to spend a little more time with those I'll be missing while I'm gone.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The right tools make all the difference

Several years ago, Mr. at Home got a photography bug and ended up with some fancy equipment and software. He has since gotten busy with work, work, and school, and the photography stuff sat gathering dust. Whenever I'd read another mommy blog about cool photography tricks, I'd sigh and click on past. Because, let's face it, while it all looked really awesome, I had no interest in delving into a bunch of technical stuff to take professional looking photos. I have enough going on in my life without adding another time suck.

Then little motivators cropped up. L's dance pictures cost a fortune and stunk anyway, so I grabbed the digital SLR and held an informal photo shoot in front of a shopping center fountain. The sports associations *always* mess up our order, so I snapped a few of K on my own. They were better photos than my point-and-shoot could take and the "auto" setting seemed to do all I needed it. Maybe this isn't so hard after all.

Today, I got the girls all spiffed up to try for a Christmas card photo. Even the puppy had a bath (that was for a completely different reason and you really don't want to know). With exactly 14 minutes before L had to leave for dance class, we raced down to our simple and pretty neighborhood display and frantically clicked away before we had to get on the road.

Tonight I loaded them into iPhoto like usual, but there was a tiny little prompter in the back of my mind. MckMama raves about a photo editing software called Lightroom. And you know, I think Mr. at Home might have bought that one. And it might just happen to be on the desktop I'm using until my laptop screen gets repaired.

And it was.

So I opened it and easily got the pictures imported. Then the whole user-interface scared me. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So I went back to MckMama's most recent tutorial and within the first 2 sentences of the tutorial, I had figured the whole thing out.

Ok, maybe not the WHOLE thing. But enough to where I could click around and make some really amazing things happen without any amount of trouble because a lot of the effects are preset for you and you just have to pick the one you like best. Then there are all kinds of detailed changes you can make in another frame, but they're all easy and you can just play around until you find something you like.

For example, this photo is edited in iPhoto.

And here's the same one using Lightroom.

The difference is breathtaking. Sharper, bolder, more detailed. Just think of all I've been missing!!!! And all because I was scared of what turned out to be nothing!!!! It's just a easy to use one as it is to use the other.

And with Lightroom you can do really cool effects like this with a couple of clicks.

Don't worry. These pictures are great, but they did not make the cut for the actual Christmas card, so you still have a surprise to forward to in your mailbox soon. I was so proud of myself for not freaking out and making the girls wear matching clothes. I went with the flow and let them choose things that matched their own style - L in a lovely smocked corduroy dress and K in corduroy jeans, a Christmas t-shirt, and a blue jean jacket. Surprisingly, they coordinated very well and made some really cute pictures.

Especially with a little post-production magic courtesy of Adobe Lightroom.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cindy Jae and all the kids

Today we took Cindy Jae on another exposure outing. Some friends got together at a local mall playground (the mall playground to put all other mall playgrounds to shame) and we headed over there to let all our poor socially deprived homeschoolers spend time with other kids. Socialization is important, after all.

I packed up Cindy Jae's baby gear - paper towels, wipes, treats, toys, tie-down chain, vest, and a copy of the law that allows us to take her in public places in SC (I swear it's like having a baby all over again), took her for one last walk to make sure she had taken care of all her business, and we headed just down the street to the mall. One last chance to take care of business and we headed inside.

Where Cindy Jae walked in without a care, then promptly pooped on the floor.


I used some of those clean-up supplies then got the girls checked in for the playground. I said it was a monster of a playground, didn't I? They *charge admission*. The girls went to play and Cindy Jae and I joined the other moms at a table nearby. I hooked one end of her tie-down to my chair and the other end to her collar and she sniffed and explored and nipped at everything within reach. She whined just a bit, but was pretty good. After awhile, she settled down and started dozing.

Periodically the children would mess with her and she'd get up and interact for a minute and then find another comfy position on the cold tile floor. She didn't seem to mind it, in fact she spend much of her time stretched out enjoying it. The rest of the time, she was curled up under the table. Like this.

And this.

And sometimes like this.

On the way out, we managed to get one quick shot with most of the kids and Cindy Jae. This exposure part of her training is turning out to be very, very fun.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meet Cindy Jae

Early yesterday morning the girls and I hopped in the car and headed across town to meet this sweetheart.

For the next 14-20 months, Cindy Jae as her sponsor named her, will be under our care for training, socialization, and fun times.

Cindy Jae belongs to the Southeastern Guide Dogs school and will be returning there when her time with us is up to be trained as a guide dog for the blind. Part of our job is to simply teach her house manners and basic commands so that she has a good foundation for the school to build on. The most fun part of our job is exposure. We have to take her places so that she's comfortable in all kinds of different environments and situations.

When we picked Cindy Jae up, she was visibly exhausted and docile. We brought her home for a bit then decided that we would accept a friend's invitation to Monkey Joe's, a local place full of bounce houses and kids everywhere. Hey, she might as well jump right into the deep end and I figured she'd be pretty easy to handle since she was so tired.

We arrived at Monkey Joe's, took care of business outside, then put on her identification vest to go inside. We had to have a little talk with the manager who was a bit wary, but very nice and eventually let us in. It's amazing how being gracious and accommodating to others will often work in your favor. Do you want to see how our first outing went?

Here's Cindy Jae curled up in my friend's lap. Sleeping.

And here's Cindy Jae a little later stretched out in my friend's lap. Still sleeping.

The puppy did sit in my lap and look around for a little while before heading off to dreamland. All in all, I call it a complete success.

She spent the afternoon napping, then we headed out to replace the pet gate I bought (Cindy Jae fit through the cat door, rendering the gate useless). I put her in the floorboard by K's feet where she promptly...fell asleep. K stayed with her while I exchanged the gate, then we headed over to the SuperTarget to pick up a few groceries. This time, we brought Cindy Jae in. Even though I tried to get her to do her business outside, she waited until we were halfway through the store to pop a squat. So K took her outside, while I handled clean-up on aisle 8. Don't worry, I came prepared for such an emergency.

When we got home, C-Jae (which is what we've pretty much resorted to calling her, making her sound like a rap star) spent the rest of the evening falling asleep whenever she could. We'd wake her up and feed her. Wake her up and drag her outside. Yep, exciting times in the realm of puppydom.

She was still falling over tired when we put her in her crate for the night, but that did not stop her from whining and complaining...loudly...for awhile. I tried the tricks in the manual (both the old and the new) and nothing worked, so I finally just went to bed and she stopped on her own and slept quietly all night.

So what I've learned so far about puppies.

- It can take some time and a little walking before the puppy will actually go potty.
- You have to carry her outside in the morning, quickly, or she'll pee on the floor.
- Puppies will try to eat cigarette butts.
- Just like a baby, she'd rather play with (eat) the box than the chew toys inside.
- She's most active in the morning, which is my least favorite time of day.
- She sleeps the rest of the day. Something she and my cat have in common.

On the whole, C-Jae is very well behaved and is the absolute cutest, lovingest dog around.

And she's been sucking down water all morning, so we'd better head out for another walk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's been a wonderful morning!

Why has it been a wonderful morning?

Because for the past week or so, I've suddenly noticed that I was having to buckle my belt on the very inside-most hole. I noticed that my jeans were looser. I noticed that a pair of slacks I almost took back because they fit too tight were suddenly just fine. Yesterday it occurred to me that a pair of jeans I recently bought a size smaller than usual were too big and, even with my belt buckled on the tightest loop, there was still a lot of slack.

This morning, on a whim, I pulled a pair of jeans from the bottom of the stack. A pair I haven't been able to wear in a couple of years. They slipped up and buttoned so easily it was laughable.

So now you're wondering how in the world I've managed to lose weight and inches and be almost completely oblivious to it, aren't you?

It's called no more benadryl.

For the past few YEARS, I've had to take massive doses of antihistamines to control my hives. We'd found a few food allergies, but it took a long time for me to discover and eliminate the biggest irritant - caramel coloring. It's finally worked it's way mostly out of my system and I've been down to just 1 medicine in the morning and one at night for awhile (with the exception of one breakthrough, but it's back under control).

You know how just one dose of benadryl will knock most people out? Just think of years of massive doses of it and every other antihistamine you've ever heard of. I felt like a zombie. No energy, no focus. The meds slowed down my metabolism and slowed me down so that even my daily activity level bottomed out.

If that's not a recipe for weight gain, I don't know what it.

Since the allergies have been under control and I've gotten off most of the medication, I'm moving more. Doing more. My body has been recovering from the constant onslaught. As a result, my body is shedding the weight the medications caused. I really wasn't looking for it and so it kinda caught me by surprise. A pleasant surprise.

Here's hoping the trend continues and I can pull out more of the smaller clothes my little optimistic self has been keeping around just in case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chew toys

Today I dropped the oldest daughter off at a birthday party and took the younger one with me on an exploratory trip to a nearby pet store.

We don't shop at pet stores as a general rule. We have a cat, but I can pick up food and cat litter when I do my grocery shopping. No extra stops required.

It, however, occurred to me today that November 22nd or 23rd will be here soon. As in just over a week and a half. As in *next weekend*. What's happening on that fateful day, you ask?

We get a dog.

Not just any dog. A puppy. A puppy that we're raising for Southeastern Guide Dogs. For the next year or so we'll provide basic training and lots of exposure to different environments. This puppy will go with us on errands and field trips. We'll hang out with other puppy-raisers and do plenty of group training and events.

I've had dogs before. Growing up, we always had at least one, but we lived in the country and our dogs had no training and were free to wander at will. We never had an inside dog that we had to walk or teach to behave. It's been making me nervous. I have a comprehensive training guide that gives specifics on *everything* - from how to word commands to what kind of food dishes to use. That in and of itself is nerve-wracking to my little rule-following heart. How will I remember everything???

During our trip through the pet store today, we looked at pet gates with special doors that the cat can get through. We discussed the pros and cons of different crates with an associate. We priced food and water dishes. We talked about brands of dog food (did you they make food specially formulated for labradors?) I'm going to have to go back with one of the other puppy-raisers to see what they suggest. Then L and I got to the fun stuff. We looked at collars and leashes and we checked out the chew toys. Curiously, they looked a lot the chew toys for babies.

We picked out a chew toy that fit what I remembered of the guidelines from the manual and we made our very first purchase for the puppy that will be here next weekend. Seeing that chew toy makes the whole thing more real. It's actually going to happen after months of waiting. It has the dual effect of making me even more nervous and calming my fears a bit. It will just be a puppy. A cute cuddly romping puppy that needs a family to take care of her.

You want to know what else helped?

Go to the Southeastern Guide Dog website puppy cam and watch their current litter play. I don't know if it's the litter that will be coming to Charlotte or not, but they're really really cute. I was also extremely heartened to see that some of the toys in that pen violated the rules in the manual. When it comes to puppies, you have to be a little flexible.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My low-budget living room makeover

This post should be alternately titled, "One woman's garage sale stuff is another woman's treasure".

A few posts ago, I showed off the buffet I inherited from my grandmother. It's been a beautiful addition to my living room and I've been working to make the rest of the room look worthy of such a grand piece of furniture.

When you walk into my house, you walk right into the living room. It has a 2-story ceiling and white walls and I wanted to make it look warm and cozy with browns and oranges and reds and I wanted to do it without spending a fortune. Like what it would cost to paint the 2-story tall walls in here and the adjoining dining room. Or buy new furniture. I worked with what I had.

What I had was a black modern futon and a set of tables in dark wood. I had rich red-toned wood floors, two heavy dark gold lamps, and a few pillows, a few knick-knacks, and a beautiful antique buffet. What I had was no budget to work with so anything else I got had to be cheap.

And this is what it looks like tonight.

When my parents were down last month, we decorated the buffet and my mom was wonderful enough to buy a few decorative items to use there and I found a few inexpensive additions.

I wanted some trim to dress up a small lamp, so I went to the fabric store where I found some wonderful fabric heavily clearanced that would be perfect for drapes. Sure, it was a little more floral than my ideal, but at $3.50/yard, I wasn't going to be picky. Buying the hardware at Wal-Mart saved a few dollars and the rods are still pretty.

The next day was The Nester's yard sale and even though she swore she didn't have many cute things, I came out with a huge bag full and I only spent $8.50. So, Nester, do you recognize this pedestal?

A little spray paint and some furry trim and it's a completely new creature. Then her bird found a new home on top of my wire house.

Some old pillows and fabric remnants from that garage sale became new accents on my couch.

I even made small pillows for the extra dining room chairs that wandered away from my table.

The Nester's old pillows were far cheaper than buying new pillow forms from the craft section. When I was recovering the pillows, I decided to iron the edges under and topstitch them to make it easier to fit the pillow in and sew it closed. Mr. at Home came in and he knows enough about sewing to know that I was "supposed" to sew it inside out. I was trying to explain the different design and he exclaimed, "Oh, like a ravioli!" Why, yes, exactly. It's like sealing a ravioli.

The Nester lives way around on the other side of town and I had trouble getting back out to the loop after I left her house. I ended up shooting over it and I had to turn around in a neighborhood. Where there was a yard sale sign. And I figured, hey, why not. I could ask the quickest way to an entrance ramp AND see if there was anything else I *needed*. That's where I found this mirror.

Which I brought home and spray painted and hung on the wall. And paired with this little spray from the 75% clearance shelf at Target that I enhanced with a few orange-y flowers I got from The Nester.

In addition to making 6 pillows today, I edited Mr. at Home's paper for business class and took the girls to a local fall festival. It was in a town center filled with little shops, one of which was going out of business and I found this little bird house on "going out of business" clearance.

I love how the little birds hung out a fall wreath and I have a feeling they'll be putting out a different one for Christmas.

And those sticks in the vase? Those were in my backyard. Add a couple of sticks of berries left-over from a project years ago and it's a free version of the latest in home decor.

So a whole new warm and cozy living room filled with not-so-new stuff that I love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

K the Softball Legend

K plays softball. Have I mentioned that? She's on her 4th season, 4th team, 4th set of coaches, and 2nd association. We've had awesome fundamental coaches, excellent strategy coaches, and coaches that were so bad we didn't play in the end-of-season tournament because they didn't know about it.

We moved across town last year and K is playing in a different association that is part of a different league with different rules. In the spring, K had to get used to the girls doing most of the pitching and she handled the transition well. At the end of the season, K learned there was an all-star team and a travel team and her goal became to do whatever it takes to get invited to those teams.

So for the first time, we are playing fall softball. It's a slightly smaller group with our association fielding 3 8U teams instead of the 4 it had in the spring. The biggest change is that all the teams have taken it up a few notches. The girls pitch more consistently, field more accurately, and hit more regularly. I don't know if they've all developed that much more body control since the spring or if only the more serious players participate in the fall, but it's been exciting to see the level of play improve so much.

We've slogged our way through a wet autumn season with weeknights and weekends committed to softball games. When we've wanted to camp, we've had to suck it up and stay for another game. When my grandmother died, K missed several games while we were gone. She couldn't miss any more and be eligible for the tournament, so we had no choice but to be there every single game. Thankfully, she made it to the end of the regular season healthy and ready to play every time.

Our team had a fantastic record. We got a brand new coach who amazingly stuck right in there with the seasoned and dedicated guys who've been coaching this level for ages. Our record was exactly the same as the others. Our team is full of tall girls and every single one of them can hit and hit well. Our coach knows the game and how best to use each girl's strengths and we went into the tournament last week fully expecting to do well.

So far, we're 5 games into the double-elimination tournament and our team is still alive and kicking. We have lost one game, but we're in until we lose another. There are 4 teams left in the tournament - the 3 teams from our association and one team from a neighboring community. We have to win 4 more games to win the championship and we have an excellent chance to do just that. And K is one the reasons we have that chance.

K has become an excellent softball player. She's extremely patient at the plate - never swinging at the first pitch and shows absolutely no nervousness when she falls behind with 2 strikes. She can wait out a ball or foul off close pitches until she finds one she likes and sends it sailing into the outfield. Even with genetics making her a slow runner, she still manages to squeeze out a few doubles. When she's in the field, K normally plays 3rd with a stint or two in right field because she's one of the few players who will work to back up first base every time. She can make the throw from 3rd to 1st base accurately and she's strong enough to get it there in the air.

Most importantly, K is a player who does what she's asked without complaining. She listens and learns. She's focused when she's on the field, always watching and moving and reacting when the coaches yell instructions. She wants to improve and will work hard to accomplish what she needs to. Those are the qualities that make her an excellent player, a valuable asset to her team, and those are the qualities that will serve her well in every area of life.

After all, isn't that why we have our kids play sports?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you want to move a chair...

I've been working on my living room lately. You know - reorganizing, rearranging, decorating, thinking about paint and furniture and what I want on the walls and on the mantle. It's been a lot more consuming than I would have thought, but I'm loving the changes.

One change I've decided I want to try is to move a certain brown chair from the living room where it works just fine upstairs to the loft where we need more seating and it would be more useful. But in order to move the chair upstairs, there were a few things that had to happen first.

Before I moved the chair, I had to clean the loft and the living room.

Before I could clean the loft or the living room, I had to move some extra stuff out of the living room.

Before I moved that extra stuff, I had to finish some projects.

Before I finished the projects, I had to work on school planning.

Before I worked on school planning, I had to organize a bunch of school stuff.

(It was like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" backwards.)

So I got all the school papers organized into their proper binders and put away.

Then I knew what needed to come next in the girls' lessons, so I got some lesson planning done and their work ready for the coming week.

Then I had some free time to work on my projects and got my crocheting and my sewing done.

Once those projects were done, I could move the craft table and stool out of the living room and back into the craft room and I put the crochet projects in a box to mail to my nephews.

Now that the extra stuff was out of the way, I can finish the laundry today and finally clean my living room and my loft. Ok, that will probably have to be finished tomorrow.

And only then can I move my chair upstairs and see if it works in our loft.

All that reminds me of a funny thing that happened this week. When I was finishing up my sewing, L brought her worksheet to the craft table telling me that she was supposed to draw a picture of her mom or dad working, like as a waitress or a doctor or fireman or something. I explained that she needed to draw us doing our real jobs, like Daddy working on his computer or me doing one of the many jobs I do - driving, cleaning, teaching, sewing, etc. She looked at me in extreme disappointment and announced, "I wish you were a waitress." Sheesh! Even my own daughter doesn't think I have a real job.

She ended up drawing me sewing and here's what I was working on.

The other project I finished was making was these little rectangle monsters for my nephews. The youngest's birthday is tomorrow and I thought all the boys might like getting a box in the mail and pulling out these little guys.