2017 in review

Years that end in 7s have typically been pretty eventful for me. Well, at least two of them have. I spent a good chunk of 1997 in London, which was life-changing for me. And 2007 brought a trio of little clones into our lives. So I expected 2017 to be equally eventful for me personally. I mean, hey, it was also the year I was 42, so expectations were high.

But it didn’t end up being particularly noteworthy, at least not for me. In fact, generally speaking, I’d say it was not a great year overall. But for our family, it was fine. Let’s recap. Continue reading

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My DIY Christmas mantle

Last year, we spent the holidays in the UK, and it was magical and wonderful and fantastic and everything else positive (minus of course the last day when Miles barfed everywhere and I got to put one of those tiny washer/dryer combos to the test) (and why did I have to ruin that sentence with barf talk? Just Keeping It Real, folks.) but this year, we’re staying home. Which is fine, I guess (kicks the dirt sadly) but I reasoned if we were going to be in stinky old Louisiana for Christmas, I’d better decorate the house so we’d feel more festive.

So I turned my attention to the mantle. I started buying garlands to hang over it when they appeared at Michael’s last month. I dug out the boys’ stockings (though I still need to fix the one Ziggy chewed up two years ago.) But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on the mantle itself.

 

That’s freaking festive right there.

 

Then I remembered my mom’s Christmas village set that she didn’t really use anymore. But then I was reminded she’d asked me years ago if I wanted it, and I said no, and so she sent it to my sister. Okay, plan B.

I was perusing Facebook one day and came across a papercraft village that I could make with my Silhouette. Not too hard, and since it was mostly made of cardstock, cheap! (Just the way I like it.) I bought the templates and started cutting. And gluing. And folding. And after a few nights of watching movies over Thanksgiving break, it was done!

 

It doesn’t get much cuter than that.

 

If you plan to create your own cardstock village, I have some advice.

  • Use 80 lb cardstock. I made the bases with 110 lb and it didn’t’ cut as easily.
  • Get some strong, 1/4″ wide double sided tape like this. At first I used glue dots, and that was a disaster. The red backing on the tape makes it easy to see to remove.
  • The instructions on the 3dcuts.com website say to take waxed paper to the back of each window so the tea lights don’t show through. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Transparent Scotch tape worked perfectly and was much easier than cutting tiny squares of waxed paper. (Make sure it’s the foggy kind of tape, not the crystal clear kind.)
  • Okay, so my village looks more like it’s in a cloud than in snow. Whatever.
  • My little sign is the same size as the houses. But it’s cute so I don’t care.
  • Aren’t the trees great? They’re from the dollar spot at Target.

 

Awww, all lit up.

 

Wait, but that’s not all! The pièce de résistance is my autographed It’s a Wonderful Life poster.

Yes, that’s right! I said AUTOGRAPHED.

Thank you, 16-year-old self for being obsessed with Jimmy Stewart!

Next year, expect to see MORE GARLANDS and MORE TINY BUILDINGS! Wooooo!

Jasmine


We planted these jasmine vines a few years ago.


And they are thick on the gate.


So even while I curse the latch that sticks,


I enjoy the sweet smell of jasmine. Makes it not so bad.

Betcha didn’t know I was so poetic, did ya?

How to build a patio in 28 easy steps

Yesterday I posted a picture of our finished patio that George, some friends, and I built over three days last week. Now I am here to tell you how we did it.

Step 1: Mark out and measure the area. 

Our yard is on the side of the house, and it’s an L-shape. There’s a weird bit of sidewalk in the middle back from when there was a house there. Due to the boys playing soccer and Ziggy being Ziggy and other factors, there was an area next to the back door that was dirt or mud, depending on the weather. So we marked out a rectangular area between the side of the house and the weird sidewalk bit.

Step 2: Order stuff

We decided on these brick-like pavers from Home Depot called Holland pavers because they were on sale and I liked the look of them. Woot! Arranged for them to be delivered because, uh, we needed a bunch.

We also needed sand, so I did some googling and found a local company to deliver a truckload of concrete sand. Thank goodness they had a handy dandy calculator on their website to figure out how much we needed. Feel very adult-like.

Also buy a case of beer with which to bribe friends with so they will help. Go back to feeling like a college student. Continue reading

Ta dah! {brick patio!}

A week ago, this was basically mud (or dirt, depending on the weather.) But now, thanks to the help of friends and my parents (who took the boys for a few days) we have a lovely brick patio!


Naturally, this photo was taken very carefully so you can’t see the piles of dirt and sand and shovels everywhere. I’ll save all that for the post I’m planning about how we built it.

But for now I’m going to enjoy the nice evening with my back to the mess.

Am organizational genius

The most adorable photo of my children will get a few dozen likes on FB, maybe some comments too. But within minutes of posting my new organizational system, I had scores of likes and tons of comments. So I am blogging about it for posterity.

Uniforms and laundry are a big thing in our house. For the last six years, I’ve stored the boys’ uniforms (everything from socks, undies, shirts, and shorts/pants) in a large round bin. No, I don’t fold their clothes. Please. Life is too short. Everything they wear to school goes in the big bin. It’s a mess. As they’ve gotten bigger, so have their clothes. (Shocking!) The bin is frequently overflowing, plus they’ll dig through it and leave a ring of questionably clean clothes around the perimeter of the bin. I never know what’s clean or what’s dirty, so I end up washing it all again just in case.

About a year or so ago, I bought a mesh shoe organizer and put it on the back of the bathroom door to store all those little things like washcloths, extra razors, my stash of Breathe-Right nose strips, multiple colors of hair dye, etc. It then occurred to me that maybe I could do this with the boys’ clothes. But the shoe organizer pockets are too small.

Amazon to the rescue! Found one with 15 large pockets. How perfect is that? Three kids, five days a week of uniforms. And only $8!

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Each pocket holds a pair of socks (matching, even!), undies, shirt, and shorts. The Friday pockets have spirit shirts because they can wear those on Fridays. Oliver gets pants because he prefers them. Fortunately, I have more than 15 shirts (uh, who knew?) and tons of socks and underpants so I only have to stock those once a week. Shorts and pants will have to be washed throughout the week, but now I can see at a glance what we need and how often I need to wash uniforms. And no more scrambling at the last minute for a pair of matching socks.

Granted, this will be easiest if you have triplets who are all the same size and if they wear uniforms but still, it can be modified to work for you.

The end! Yay! Woo!

Ketchup

I just haven’t posted anything of substance in a while. Let’s see, what’s been going on?

Well, Ziggy has developed a taste for my shoes. Yesterday I found one of my new $$$ running shoes in the backyard, sans an insole, and chewed up. Sigh. I guess I need to spray that bitter stuff on everything. Ugh. He spent the afternoon at the vet the other day while the living room got painted. It was so cheap, I’m glad to know it’s an option for when I have to be out of the house all day, so he’s not too bored.

Speaking of getting the living room painted…it’s almost done! Bye-bye yellow, hello, soothing gray. I love it.

Before:

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Now:

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Better, yes? I love it.

I also gave my blog a makeover. New theme! Always fun.

I went on a field trip with Miles the other day. It was pretty cool. They got to learn about a bunch of instruments, then hear the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra play some kid-friendly tunes. Now the boys want to be in a band. YESSSSS! My boy band ambitions for them are coming to fruition at last! Except Oliver said he wants to play the flute. But that’s cool, no reason a boy band can’t have a flute in it.

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Learning about the clarinet

This past weekend I attended two Easter Egg hunts. The first was Saturday morning, and it was the NOMB one. It was huge and awesome. It was a miracle that it didn’t rain. So crazy. The weather was supposed to be terrible all week, school was even cancelled on Friday. But it barely even rained. (We were extremely lucky compared to our neighbors on the north shore who got a lot of bad flooding.)

I took a short time-lapse of part of the hunt. I was in the under-1 area, so lots of babies.

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Me and Megan. Ziggy ate my ears later. Sigh.

And then yesterday, I took the boys to the neighborhood one. It was at this really cute events place. I’d love to see it all lit up at night!

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Last night was the boys’ school fundraiser. I got this in the wine pull. Better than my friend who got a bottle of Yellow Tail. Heh.

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So that’s what has been going on. Coming up is a bunch of travel that I’m excited about. A week in Austin next month to meet with one of my teams, and then a longer trip in June to do some recruiting in Spain and volunteering at WordCamp Europe. In August, I’m taking the boys to visit my brother and his family in California, which we’re all really excited about.

Various things

I forgot to mention in last week’s post that we also got a new security system. So many improvements!

Also, we were looking at putting the boys in Cub Scouts, so we went to a meeting the other night to check it out. One of the activities they do is sleep on a warship, which sounds really cool, but Oliver told us later that he’d rather just sleep in his own bed. So we decided that Cub Scouts maybe isn’t for them, and instead, Oliver and Miles will be playing soccer and Linus will cheer them on. I hope.

The other night I made waffle pizzas for dinner. It was actually George’s idea. I guess he’s been perusing Pinterest in his free time. I toasted some waffles, let the boys put cheese and pepperoni on them (no sauce for them) and then stuck them under the broiler. Yum! They all gobbled them up.

Waffle pizzas are a hit!

A post shared by Pam Kocke (@pyjammy) on

Speaking of gobbling things up, I relented and bought those cotton candy grapes at the store. I’ve always been a bit weirded out by them for no rational reason, but Linus and I are huge fans. At $4 a pound, this could get expensive.

My ankle is doing a bit better, thank you very much. I got a brace that has these little gel pockets right around my achilles tendon, and I’ve stopped going barefoot. I hate wearing shoes all the time, but it’s working, so I’ll just have to suck it up.

Saturday, we went to my cousin’s house to have a big ol’ cousin hangout. We’re going to try to start doing that more. It was really great. Got the kids together for a pic:

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A friend from work got a photo made into a cartoon of herself, and I loved hers so much that I went on fiverr.com and found an artist whose style I liked and got my own.

I had them use this picture:
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Which resulted in this:
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but a “friend” said I looked like THIS:
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so I did a little photoshopping and ended up with this, which I hope looks more like me. Hmmph.
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If not, who cares, it was $5.

(But everyone who agreed with Betsy is on my shit list.)

The end. Happy Labor Day.