Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor…

…well you know the thing they say about the USPS. The same could be said of the boys and soccer.

Their tournament this weekend in Alexandria (a smallish town 3 hours from NOLA) was cancelled at the last minute, but me being the cheapo that I am, booked our hotel room via hotels.com instead of the team travel agency. And of course it was non refundable. So we decided to make a road trip of it!

And so I find myself sitting in the car while the boys play in the rain (only a mist right now, but it had better get worse later since they ended the season early for this, breaking little hearts all over the state) at a park that Ren found for us. THANKS RENNY!

The exciting part of the trip for me comes tomorrow when we head an hour north to Natchitoches, the small town where I went to boarding school for nerds (LSMSA) for two years. I am hoping it will spark an interest in the boys, like when my sixth grade science teacher told me about it. (Thanks Mrs. Schucker!)

We’ll be getting a tour of the school on Monday morning but tomorrow we’ll wander around town and I’ll tell them about all some of the hijinks we got up to. And we’ll eat meat pies and get drive through daiquiris, just like the old days. Well, maybe Sonic slushes for the boys.

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Sewing clothes for myself again!

I feel like it’s been forever since I made something for myself (not counting the pink satin shorts I made for Mardi Gras, even though they are now in use as the most comfy pajama shorts ever) but I finally finished my first Ellis Skirt by Cashmerette.

The day the pattern came out, I ordered a kit complete with this beautiful dark blue stretch denim and the rivets and topstitching thread and all that good stuff. But there was no way I was going to cut right into it without practicing on a less precious fabric first. So I found some inexpensive gray stretch denim at Joann’s, and set to work.

Well. I mean, it’s an intermediate-level pattern, so it wasn’t easy. But it was fun. I set up two sewing machines (thank goodness I got another one!) as suggested – one with regular thread, and one with topstitching thread. That way, you’re not constantly changing out the thread.

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The pattern comes with two size variations, one for apple shapes, and one for pear shapes. I always assumed I was a pear, but after scrutinizing the measurements, I decided to go with the apple. (In all honestly, I’m more like a slice of bread. Kind of square.) And you can choose between two styles – one is a traditional jeans look with rivets and a jeans button and all that, but is knee-length with a slit up the front. The other has different details on top – it uses a slide fastener, and there’s some topstitching on the pocket area, but it’s short.

I wanted the jeans-style of the first style with the length of the second, so that’s what I made.

I could wait to blog about this after I finish the second skirt, but I learned a lot while making this, and I want to write it all down so I remember.

  1. The zipper. Oops. This is a big one. I somehow misread the instructions and it’s somehow shifted to the side a bit. It’s actually fine, it works, and when the skirt is all closed up, you can’t really tell. I don’t think. Maybe it looks off-center, but it’s not immediately obvious. I’ve since watched tutorials on installing the zipper, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get it right next time.
  2. Topstitching. There are a few things here I need to think about for the next time. First, I need to really figure out what the tension settings should be for each area of the skirt. In some parts, especially around the waistband, you’re sewing down several layers of denim and lining, and the stitches don’t look quite right. But it would probably need to be adjusted for other areas where you’re only sewing through one or two layers (pockets, hem, etc.) And for this skirt, I didn’t think too much about the pattern I stitched onto the pockets, but this is an area where you can really have fun! So I want to think harder about what I put on the pockets. Maybe a different thread color? Some kind of pattern? We’ll see.
  3. The dang button. I bought a pack of five or six jeans buttons from Joann’s and I destroyed three of them trying to hammer them in. What’s up with that? Why can’t they just screw in? Hmmph. I ended up having to repair the hole and just sew on a regular button. I hope rivets aren’t as difficult.

I guess those are the big things – doing a neater job with topstitching will go a long way towards making the next skirt a bit more polished. But if anyone has any tips for the button, please let me know.

Now for the awkward pics! I swear I wasn’t trying to make any particular face in any of these.

Detail shots:

PS This is random, but just a demonstration of what a small world this is…the model wearing the longer skirt is Meg, who is a prolific and awesome sewist I have been following ever since I started sewing. The crazy thing is, she is also good friends with George’s cousin! We were even at the same wedding a couple of years ago (before I started sewing, sadly.) Isn’t that random? So awesome.

Well that was a weekend

Lots of things going on.

Let’s see, Saturday started out early with an hour plus drive in dense fog to Houma, a small town with a vicious soccer team. The boys played well, but alas, their team lost. It was only their third loss (the first was a friendly, so that doesn’t really count, right? and the second was in a tournament that they ultimately won so I don’t count that either, heh.) Anyway, whatever. Onward!

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Once we got home, I got to rest for about half an hour before I had to head across town to the girls’ tournament to be a field marshall, to fulfil my volunteer requirement since we get financial aid. And I got a sunburn. Ugh.

Sunday was better. We went to the World War II museum for the first time (well, it was George’s and my first time. The boys had been with camp a few years ago.) I probably should be somewhat ashamed to admit how much I learned – it helped me understand a lot about the different parts of the war and how it all happened in various parts of the world.

And I got to launch some torpedos, which is always fun.

We didn’t get to see it all, but hopefully we can go back before too long. We got a free pass from the library, which was invaluable – the tickets for everything we saw would have cost us nearly $200 if we’d had to pay. Yikes.

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After that, Terry and I took the kids to get crawfish. Yum! We somehow missed eating crawfish last year completely, which is a travesty, and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. We took them to a restaurant that was lined with taxidermied animals. And not just any animals. There was a lion. And a monkey. It was creepy and weird and I won’t be going back there, that’s for sure. Eeek. But the crawfish was good, at least.

Yesterday was also the 15th anniversary of owning our house, which is crazy! 15 years! I know I complain about it being too small (I mean, to be fair, we weren’t expecting to stuff it with boys when we bought it.) but I hope we stay in it long enough for the boys to bring their kids one day. 😀

It’s times like this I’m glad I’ve been blogging forever. Here’s my post about our super fun closing!

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Ziggy, meanwhile, is obsessed with this squeaky ball that lights up that we caught at Mardi Gras. He very carefully carries it around in his mouth, and GOD FORBID it squeaks. And don’t try to take it from him. If you even go near it when he doesn’t have it, he’ll grab it so you can’t get it. It definitely seems like a love/hate relationship. It’s the cutest thing.

 

Back to reality

I’ve been at work for a week now, and I’m starting to remember how to do it. Ha! Things changed a lot while I was gone, and also I’m very forgetful so yeah. It took me the whole first week just to get reacclimated. Thankfully I have very kind teammates who have already taken their sabbaticals so they know what it’s like.

And then, of course, soccer has filled in all the gaps. The boys had their first tournament of the spring season this weekend, and it was in Gulfport, Mississippi. ROAD TRIP! I mean, tiny road trip. It’s only a little over an hour away. Closer than Baton Rouge, even. But it sure was nice to take in the new car! Even though she got muddy on the outside and dirty on the inside. Sniff, sniff. (Don’t worry, she’s all clean now.)

They had a game late Saturday morning, so we left bright and early. It was chilly. I took pictures. They won the first game, hurrah!

The second game should have been an easy win – the team they played had lost their previous game something like 8-1. But alas, they must have been tired and sluggish from lunch because it was a 1-1 tie.

We went to the hotel after that and rested for a bit, then met up with their friend Joseph and his family for dinner at a restaurant on the water. After that, even though I was exhausted (and surely so were they) I let them run around a park nearby for a little while.

Then we slept and woke up early, ate breakfast, met up with Joseph and his mom and sister at a school playground and they kicked a ball around for a little while, then headed to game #3. If they won this game, they’d win the tournament.

And they did! It was a nail-biter, but our goalie kicked the ball all the way across the field and scored a goal in the final minutes of the game. That was exciting!

I got a bit artsy with the pics from this game.

On the way home, we listened to a podcast about soccer, and I think I finally understand offsides now. Though I probably still won’t be able to identify it during a game. We’ll see.

This week should be fairly quiet. A couple of soccer practices, followed by a game this weekend and finally a visit to the World War II museum (scored a pass from the library!)

Wrapping up my sabbatical

The last time I wrote about what I was up to was in late January, at the mid-point of my sabbatical. Oops. Today is actually a bonus day off – I have thought for the entire three months that I was going back to work today, but I’m actually going back tomorrow. My last day off is today. Score! I sure was smart way back when I requested my time off. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was going to be going back to work right after Mardi Gras break, with no down time from the boys being home from school for a week and a half. So it’s nice to have some quiet time today to straighten up the house and get some things done and just to chill.

SO. What have we been up to?

A lot, actually.

Let’s see if I can remember it all.

First, I want to say that I really thought my sabbatical would fly by. I guess to everyone else it has, but to me, it really hasn’t. It felt like three months. It felt like a nice long stretch of time. Mid-December feels like a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t try to fill it with too much stuff. I really did relax and laze around a bunch. 😀 Continue reading

11 years, 2 months

Because the fourth fell on a Monday, the boys (especially one in particular) were especially not excited about taking the monthly picture. So they said, “can’t we just keep it real for once and not smile?” In the end I got one with fake smiles and one “real” one. In the afternoon, in better moods, they said we should use the smiley one. So here you go. But of course I will post the “real” one too.

I know! They look so enthused, don’t they? Maybe overly enthused in Linus’s case.

That’s more how Oliver really felt. I can’t really blame him, really. Who wants to force a smile when it’s gray outside and you have to go to school?

Next month it’s on Lundi Gras so they’ll be out of school, so the smiles should be bigger and real!

Swimming with the fishes (part 1)

Every year at the boys’ school, they spend time outside of the school building doing cool stuff and learning and whatnot. For instance, a month at the zoo in first and third grades,  a couple of weeks at an art museum in second grade, a few weeks at the French Quarter in fourth grade, and now in fifth grade, four weeks (spread throughout the year) at the aquarium. And in the final week, they get to snorkel in the giant tank! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!? I mean, when I went to elementary school, we went to like, the state capitol building. And that’s only because we lived in the state capital. Snooze.

(And yes, they go to public school, so you can’t say it’s because we spend a ton of money on tuition.)

The tank is full of piranha and sharks and other dangerous and deadly creatures, which just adds to the excitement. Naw, just kidding. But it’s got a big coral reef and a tunnel you can walk through, which gave us a good view of the snorkelers from below, and plenty of smiling stingrays (but not the kind that kill you, presumably. And if they do, don’t tell me until the other two have their snorkeling trips later this year.)

Before the kids got in – just what the lower part of the tank looks like. LOOK IT’S MISTER RAY, THE TEACHER!
I love this picture of Linus floating.

Okay, now just a bunch more.

Some video – sadly, I didn’t get anything of Linus and his pal flossing underwater. SORRY.

And yes, you will get two see two more identical posts in the coming months. Complete with unidentifiable children that I will assure you are mine, even though I’m not 100% sure because in wetsuits and masks, all kids basically look the same.

Happy birthday (week) to me!

Last week (on Wednesday), I turned 44 and it was a great birthday week. I’ll try not to make this too wordy, but I mean, a lot of fun stuff happened, so I may fail.

We have to start on Tuesday when the washing machine broke. I know, this birthday week isn’t starting out too promisingly, is it? Particularly since it was the day the boys went back to school, and I had literally been counting down the minutes until I had some peace and quiet and solitude in the house. Instead, I had our friend Chris come over to try to fix the washer (he determined it wasn’t easily fixable, and we’d already fixed this thing a zillion times) so happy early birthday to me, I went to Home Depot and picked out a new washing machine.

I mean, exciting, except for the part where you have to pay for a new washing machine. (It wasn’t delivered until Saturday, but I’ll skip ahead and show you a picture of this beautiful giant that can wash enormous loads of laundry.)

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Aw, our poor lil’ dryer is dwarfed by it.

Okay, so Tuesday night is when the excitement really started. Kiki flew in! I picked her up and we went to Mopho for dinner and had pho and these really delicious chicken wings.

And then Wednesday, it was my birthday! Yay!

I woke up bright ‘n’ early with the boys and got them off to the bus stop, and then Kristina and I went to Orangetheory, where, duh, we wore shirts that I made (kind of like the ones I made for our trip to Harry Potter World.)

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I got so many birthday wishes! This was a great idea she had. Definitely do this on your birthday.

Next, we went home to shower, then hopped on the ferry (it was a gorgeous day) with mimosas and met Teresa for lunch at French Toast. (I’m friends with the owners, and I had been wanting to check it out since it’s pretty new.)

Next, we went in search of a king cake since I knew that it would make the boys happy, and it could also stand in for my birthday cake. After we found it, we got an Uber back to the house so we could meet the boys at the bus stop.

We hit up Ann Frances’s birthday party for a while and took our usual birthday pic together. ❤

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7 and 44!

We rested for a little while and then we went and had pizza for dinner at Tavolino, a restaurant in the neighborhood.

And after dinner, the boys gave me cards (Linus didn’t want me to share his, but here are the ones I got from Oliver and Miles, and of course I cried a bit.)

And then we had king cake!

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And then Kiki and I went to have a nightcap at the pub. But we didn’t last too long, we were exhausted.

Thursday, Kristina spent the morning cleaning the crap out of my kitchen, which is basically her favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, I got a much-needed haircut.

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Awkward, exhausted selfie! But dang my hair looked goooooood.

Later, we went to a fabric store that I love so Kristina could pick out fabric for the skirt I was going to make her. Then we went to get 80 minute massages at a spa. Oh man, that was heavenly! That night, we made a pot of Italian sausage and kale and tortellini soup for the grown ups and sushi rolls for the kids. I also made a cucumber salad for the boys AND THEY ATE IT AND LIKED IT. So obviously the apocalypse is upon us.

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Friday morning, we went back to Orangetheory, and then had a late lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. We split a bologna sandwich and a collard green melt. It was good, for sure, but we were both scratching our head a bit at how a hipster sandwich place got named “Best New Restaurant in America.” (The collard green melt was too spicy for me, sad sad sad.)

Kristina spent every spare moment organizing my pantry and the rest of the kitchen, and it’s pretty amazing right now. She loves to do that stuff. And then she was supposed to leave Saturday evening, but there was snow forecast where she lives for Saturday night, so she changed her flight to Saturday morning. SAD PAM.

I brought her to the airport while the new washer was being delivered, and then spent the rest of the day resting and getting ready for the CAMAN Ball that I was attending that night with friends. It was a speakeasy theme, and it was a lot of fun getting all glammed up. Jen was my date.

Oh wait, so now I have to tell you about the presents I got because it’s kind of funny how excited I am about them. Well, funny if you don’t sew. But George got me a cordless iron! And my mom got me nice scissors (now I really do feel bad for sneaking her nice scissors for cutting paper when I was little) and a new ironing board! I mean, not just ANY ironing board. This thing is TALL and WIDE and NOT WOBBLY and the base for my new iron sits on a holder on the end and it doesn’t squeak and it’s all very very exciting. If you sew, anyway. Also my lovely friends got me Joann gift cards and THE FUN NEVER STOPS.

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2018 in review

It’s time to look back at 2018 before too much of 2019 has gone past and I forget all about it.

It was a busy year! And I definitely didn’t blog enough, especially at the end of the year, where I had to rely too much on Instagram posts for my recaps. I’ll try to fix that for 2019. But my mantra for this year is “stop trying to do everything” which I’m afraid might turn into “turn into a lazy blob” so 2020’s mantra might need to revolve around moderation. We’ll see. Anyhoo, onto the year’s recap:

January

I turned 43. Had a nice day.

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It (sorta, not really, but close enough for the boys) snowed!

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But the best part of January was going with Steph to see My Favorite Murder live. What a fantastic night that was. Eeeek!!! The best part, of course:

 

Meeting and hugging the hosts of the show, Karen and Georgia, and getting a picture. Eeek! So fun.

And then, at the end of January, Linus said something to me that would change the course of the entire year. He said, “Mama, I think I want to play soccer again.”  Continue reading

11 years, 1 month

THE SUN IS OUT! THE SUN IS OUT! I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve seen the sun – a long, long time. Weeks. Way longer than I’m used to. But today it was gloriously cool and cloud-free and desperately needed.

That’s not really related to this month’s picture, which we took when the sun was about to go down, because I wanted to wait until after Oliver and Linus’s haircut. But anyway. YAY FOR THE SUN!