11 years = 132 months

My shaggy-haired, soccer-obsessed, goofy, sweet boys turn 11 today!

11 years ago (give or take a few days) they looked like this:

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Safe to say they’ve grown a bit.

Happy birthday, my sweet bunnies!

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Winner winner poulet dinner!

The boys’ school had their annual winter fair this weekend, and for the first time in 8 years, I won a raffle basket!

See, each class picks a theme and puts together a basket, and each class tries to outdo the others for the best basket. My co-room parent for Linus’s class is Jill, and she’s a real pro at this. Way at the beginning of the year she said, “let’s do scratch-off lottery tickets” and I said OKAY because it’s easy and fun, and well, let me get to the point, I put all three of the raffle tickets I bought in the bucket for our “basket” (really it was a frame) and I WON!

(Probably it took me 8 years to win because I’m cheap and only buy a few raffle tickets.)

Anyway, it was EXTREMELY exciting when they called my name as the winner. I screamed and jumped up and down and generally displayed some glee.

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I texted Jill immediately to tell her I won, and I told her I’d video myself scratching off the tickets so she could see what I won. (I also promised her dinner if I won big. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say my winnings would probably cover a nice meal from Popeyes.)

Thanksgiving Cruise 2018: The Recap

Considering the number of pina coladas I ingested over the course of the week, it’s likely this recap will be somewhat incomplete. But I’ll give it a try.

Sunday: Get on board!

We boarded the ship. Got checked in to our cabin (thank god we were able to score a cheap upgrade from a coffin windowless inside cabin to one with a balcony) and went off to explore the ship and meet up with the other dozen family members aboard. We boarded fairly late, so it wasn’t too long until the ship left the dock.

It’s pretty great that our neighborhood is across the river from the cruise terminal, so my friends Jenn and Heather went onto the levee, and waved goodbye. I mean, okay, I couldn’t really see them but they turned on the flashlights on their phones and waved them around, which I could see. I waved back with my phone. Exciting stuff!

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Bye NOLA!

Couldn’t find Oliver, though. Oh well. There were only 14 decks he could get lost on, I figured he’d turn up at some point. (He did, but this was an ongoing theme for the week.)

When I unpacked later, I realized I only packed one pair of shorts. I left a pile with four or five more pairs on my dresser. Ugh.

Had dinner, some wine, sailed down the Mississippi.

Monday: Day at Sea

Hmm. There was definitely some lying in the sun that day. Definitely a bloody mary at the beginning of the day. Then some other tropical adult beverages throughout. Lunch in the Garden Cafe, which is the giant buffet where the boys preferred to eat as often as possible. Eventually it was simply called #garden, because we are all dorks.

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Andrew

Had dinner together as an entire massive family that night.

Oh yeah, that morning, my sister and I went to work out, and I realized I also left one running shoe at home. Sigh.

Tuesday: Cozumel and THE MAGIC FABRIC STORE

Disembarked. Went in some of the shops. Met up with my siblings and their families, and they took the boys back to the boat so George and I could wander off alone. He had scoped out a cigar bar and I had a fabric store in mind if it wasn’t too far away.

Had margaritas and George had a cigar, and then I discovered that the fabric store was only a block away! Wheeee! I went to check it out and was immediately confused and overwhelmed. I realized I had data on my phone in Mexico so I texted my friend Terry to ask what to do. (I knew she had bought fabric in Mexico the day before, coincidentally, for her daughter’s upcoming quinceanera.)

The store was not necessarily huge, but it definitely wasn’t catering to tourists. No signs were in English, and the prices were all in pesos. I was doing a quick calculation in my head but was pretty sure the margarita was messing with my math skills because surely…these fabrics weren’t $2-3 a meter?!?!?

BUT THEY WERE.

I figured out that algodón = cotton and poliéster was pretty obvious. As usual, I was paralyzed by indecision so didn’t buy a million meters of fabric like I would have liked. Plus, I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t see a cutting table anywhere, but there did seem to be a lot of clerks wandering around. And then there were two glassed-in booths. One seemed to be a cashier, but I wasn’t sure what the other one was for. I tried to watch to see what other people did, but the store just wasn’t very busy.

Fortunately, Terry came to the rescue! She told me that the clerks walking around would measure the fabric right off the roll with the meter sticks they carried around. So I found a young man who worked there, and would point to the fabric I wanted and would use my elementary Spanish to ask for “tres” of each. I would have bought more, but I felt like I was taking up the clerk’s time too much (so dumb of me) so I only bought five different fabrics. (Three polyester Christmas prints meant for tablecloths, some black cotton/lycra blend, and a dark teal twill that unfortunately was only a remnant, so not enough for the teal twill Cashmerette trench coat pattern I covet.

I wandered over to the threads, and again, used my basic skills to get thread – whatever colors I could remember. 😀 It was 8 pesos! That’s under 50 cents a spool! I’m kicking myself not for not buying more – it was the same brand I buy here!

All in all, I walked out of the store with 16 meters of fabric and a half a dozen spools of thread for under $35.

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Don’t look at this picture too closely – my eyes are closed.

Later, we…ate dinner again. Maybe George and I went out for our “date night”? I can’t actually remember.

Wednesday: Belize City

We went to Belize City on the previous cruise, and I knew I didn’t want to get off again. There just wasn’t much to see right there at the port, and getting there involved a 30 minute tender. NO THANKS. I spent the day going down water slides and drinking more pina coladas than should be allowed. I took a nap in the middle of the day and hit my head on the bunk bed before lying down, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t ever going to wake up. (Spoiler alert: I did.)

That evening, we had a little birthday party for the boys. Mostly so my brother and sister could give them the Mexico soccer jerseys they’d bought for them the day before. Cake!

Thursday: Harvest Caye, Belize and Thanksgiving!

This was a new stop for us – a private “island” which of course was like Disney Belize, but there was a little shopping village and daiquiris and tons of chairs on the beach and a splash pad and a pool, so it was delightful. I hung out with my stepbrother and his girlfriend, and the boys played with her son, Beau (as they did all day every day on the boat.)

They collected over 100 shells, which they had to throw back. It’s slightly possible a few shells were smuggled back onboard. But probably not. We would never.

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Thanksgiving dinner was…interesting. We were split up into two tables, not quite next to each other, the kids at one, the adults at another (as it should be.) There was some drama when the kids were apparently being rambunctious by going around the table saying what they were thankful for (how dare they?) and some woman from the next table yelled at them to be quiet, then came and yelled at us for parenting such heathens, then went and yelled at them again.

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Delightful! I mean, otherwise, it was a nice meal for most of us. I had pumpkin for every course – pumpkin soup, followed by some kind of pasta dish involving a pumpkin cream sauce, and then of course, pumpkin cheesecake. Yay, no turkey for me! Oliver actually ordered and ate some pumpkin cheesecake, he told me later!!!

After dinner, we hit the ice bar on the ship where our thin Southern blood gave up after 20 minutes. It was 17 degrees! I had on a skirt! Well, my brother in law is from New Jersey, he probably could have stayed there all night. Anyway, it was pretty cool. (GET IT?)

Friday: Costa Maya, Mexico – Pam is a sucker!

Did you know the ancient Mayans also had social media?

By this point, handwashing my one pair of shorts in the sink was getting old, so I decided I’d get off the boat and buy a dress or a skirt or something in one of the shops. I also needed to get Linus a souvenir. In one shop, I found an undoubtedly authentic Mayan mask with the Real Madrid logo carved into it. I even haggled the price down five bucks. Perfect! And then I saw a cute cotton embroidered dress. Perfect! The man who was helping me brought it up to the register and told the cashier “$20 for the mask, $85 for the dress, so $105.”

I started hyperventilating. EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS for a cotton dress and the seams weren’t even finished?!?!? The sewist in me was appalled. So I told the guy, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t, I can’t, I just can’t, I can’t, I’ll buy the mask, but I can’t get the dress.” I was freaking out. But I suppose he thought I was being a shrewd negotiator and knocked the price down to $60.

Well, I mean, I guess I could have kept on freaking out, but whatever. It’s my souvenir of Mexico, but hopefully I can do something to finish the seams. I also hemmed it by hand on the boat because it was a bit too long, so I need to do that properly as well, now that I’m home.

Upshot is, I asked Terry how much she pays for those dresses, and she said, “$15-20 in Mexico City or El Paso.” Blargh.

But it’s cute!

Saturday: Day at sea

My sister in law and I created a scavenger hunt for the kids for that day. It was fun. I spent a lot of the day sitting in this one spot on the boat that was pretty peaceful (until the bars out there opened.) It was on the 8th deck, and there were big comfy chairs and sofas and I’d sit there and sew (I brought stuff to hand sew scrunchies) or read. Or maybe have a cocktail.

Family photos came later, but ours will be on Christmas cards, so not posting them yet.

Sunday: Time to go home!

We missed Ziggy.

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Okay there’s actually a lot more to the cruise. Like, there was a ropes course! It was fun and not too scary, even the part that went out over the water. I was up there when we were leaving Belize, I think. I had to borrow my brother in law’s running shoes because as noted before, I left one of mine at home. Derp.

And a rock climbing wall! The harness does ugly things to your bottom half in photos, but I’m pretty happy with how high I got. And I like to pause the video to see the muscles in my legs. But MAN it’s hard on your hands!

The boys spent 90% of their time either on the sports court where they played soccer (are you surprised?) or in the #garden where they ate ice cream. Or were in the room watching soccer, because we got some channel that showed soccer 24/7 (or so it seemed.)

Some random pics:

And some more:

Just a couple more:

Real Simple, real nerdy

A few months ago, I was flipping through Real Simple and in the “Your Words” section, they asked readers to write about their greatest accomplishment of 2018. I’ve never been inspired to write in before, but I emailed off a little snippet about my greatest obsession accomplishment of 2018.

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I got an email a few weeks later saying they might use what I wrote in the December issue, and THERE IT IS!!! So exciting. And yet so nerdy.

We were on our cruise when the issue came in the mail, so I had to beg my friend Jenn to dig through our mail and take a picture of it for me. I knew it was in there because someone tweeted to let me know.

So yeah. Kind of neat.

Slumber party musings…

My latest post over on the New Orleans Moms Blog…

It was after I made the doughnut run the next morning on mere minutes of sleep (I may exaggerate, slightly) while the children were passed out, draped over various pieces of furniture with video game controllers slipping from their fingers, pizza crusts and chips ground into the sofa, and Capri Sun packets littering the floor, that I made the solemn oath that next year we’d have a nice, calm party during the day at, like, McDonald’s or something.

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I have to admit I had fun writing this one.

Thanks to my friend Jenn for the idea. I was agonizing over the very thought of yet another slumber party, and she suggested I write a blog post about. So I did. Though I still am not sure about it, and it’d be two weeks from tomorrow, so I guess I’d better make a decision fast.

V cute things (old and new)

Old:

A story Oliver wrote and illustrated several years back. It’s a short story, but you might be surprised at how much action he managed to pack into it. It’s titled THE BOY. Are you ready for this?

I mean, that’s pretty profound, eh?

If I had to guess, it was around the time I was cooking this with some frequency. Don’t let this FICTIONAL TALE deter you. It’s quite delicious.

New:

Fifth grade school pics! Awwww.

I swear I brushed Linus’s hair that morning.
Ollie refuses to show his teeth.
Ol’ dimply Miles!

Things and stuff

I think it’s time for another blog post full of randomness.

Like…

My sabbatical starts in 32 days, 7 hours, 41 minutes, and 43 seconds! (A bit less by the time I actually post this, of course.)

And our cruise is coming up fast (don’t bother robbing us while we’re gone, we’re going to have a house sitter. Plus we have nothing to steal unless you like fabric. Please don’t steal my fabric.) and I’m working on shorts for the boys.

After the cruise is the boys’ school Winter Fair and my friend Bea is having a booth and she’s letting me sell some of my bags! So exciting! So I uh, need to make some bags. I wish I could bring my sewing machine on the cruise. Hmm.

Remember when I tripped and skinned my knees like a little kid in my friend’s backyard way back in August? (I may not have mentioned it here.) Well, I also hurt my right foot a bit at the time, but not a ton, but it’s just been bugging me ever since. I finally went to my orthopedist and he confirmed it was nothing major, which was a relief. It’ll just take a while to heal, and it’s fine to continue exercising and not do the things that make it hurt (mostly lunges and burpees OH DARN and anything that causes me to flex my toes.)

But what I found out that was interesting is that I have extra bones in my foot! Under my toes! And they’re all broken up! Most people only have this tiny bone under their big toe, but I have them under all of my toes, and they should be in one piece, but they’re in a few pieces. He said that is due to some old trauma, and it wasn’t causing my pain, it was just an interesting discovery that we found because of the x-rays I had.

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Yellow arrows point to normal (broken) bones. Red ones are bonus bones!

If I had to guess, the “trauma” was running two marathons and 13 half marathons overweight. Whatevs.

In other news, competitive soccer is done for the fall, but school soccer has begun! It’s not as time-consuming, though. But I do have to pick them up from school a couple of times a week. But that’s okay, I guess.

OH, this is exciting – I have been wanting to volunteer in a NICU starting during my sabbatical but I hadn’t had much luck getting into any of the programs in local hospitals. Finally, I got a call back from two hospitals, even though neither of them had openings in the NICU. I chose the local Children’s hospital because it’s smaller. I went to volunteer orientation, got my TB test (negative, whew) and some other tests, and I’m just waiting for an interview now so I can be put on the schedule. To start, I’ll be walking people around the hospital so they don’t get lost (it’s kind of a maze) but at some point, I’ll get into the NICU to rock babies. I’m in this for the long haul, so no rush. I can be patient.

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That’s where they injected tuberculosis into me. Or something.

So sabbatical plans:

  • Organize house (i.e., throw away a lot of stuff)
  • Sew!
  • Volunteer at hospital, hopefully get to rock some babies at least
  • See Kiki at some point
  • Work out a lot, make muscles bigger

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    It’s a start.

Pretty low-key.

In yet other news, my lemon tree might be dying. My black thumb strikes again. I’m so sad. It was full of lemons, but they abruptly stopped growing at some point, but ripened really fast, and ended up the size of ping pong balls instead of grapefruit like last year. The leaves on the tree are all withered and it’s v sad. It doesn’t look good.

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This is a shoebox.

My theories are either that the Bradford pear next to it is stealing all the sunlight (but surely it wasn’t that much shorter last year?) or something to do with fresh, healthy lemon tree growth at the base of the tree? Sapping all the nutrients from the rest of the tree? I have no idea.

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Sad leaves (from before I picked the lemons). Not the big, healthy, glossy green leaves I’m used to. 😦

Anyhoo, that’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I hit “publish” but I’d better do it before I have to change the sabbatical countdown at the top of the post again.

10 years, 11 months {131}

It was about to rain/get dark so I used my external flash and it sure did give a weird look to the picture, but better than nothing.

Here’s the hard part – I had to prioritize Linus’s cute smile over Miles’s annoyed look, but I feel like it can pass as “moody” rather than “irritated.” Fine line.

Now this one of Miles is perfection, but his brothers, well, alas. Hee hee!

This one would have been okay if the lighting had been better. Oh well.

I am not ashamed to admit, when they were younger, I did my share of swapping the boys into pics to get a good one. If the lighting had been even, I could have put Miles from picture 2 into the first picture, but it wouldn’t have matched. But I used to do that all the time when they were babies. (No, I never tried to substitute one kid for another. I’m not evil.)

One month til 11! Ack!

Our Day of the Dead altar

The movie Coco was one of our favorites of the past year. We’ve watched it several times, and when I flew to Singapore, I even fast forwarded to the end just so I could cry. I mean, it’s so beautiful. I loved learning more about Día de los Muertos, which I thought I knew something about since my friend Terry had been setting one up at the pub for Gareth ever since he passed away.

Terry and I decided it would be a wonderful tradition to start an altar (or ofrenda) this year for my dad, because now the boys (and I!) understand what it all means. And it being the 20th year since his death, it seems kind of fitting.

So with Terry’s guidance, I collected everything I needed and set up the altar last night. Today I’ve been playing the Neil Diamond station on Pandora in the living room and I am imagining Dad sitting on the sofa with Ziggy, eating a handful of the peanuts we put out for him, washing them down with the glass of Pepsi.

(Ziggy would make a great alebrije, eh? We should have dressed him as Dante for Halloween!)

Here’s what we have on it:

  • A cup of coffee
  • A deck of cards
  • A pack of Benson & Hedges and a lighter
  • Peanuts
  • Fried chicken (thigh)
  • Pepsi
  • Salt
  • Glass of water
  • Candles (LED, don’t worry)
  • Paper flowers
  • Photos of Dad (if you saw Coco, you know how important these are!)

I am definitely missing a golf ball, but I’ll remember it for next year. I can save the flowers, flags, candles, cards, and cigarettes but don’t worry, I’ll throw out the chicken and peanuts. (Poor Ziggy really wanted to eat that chicken last night.)

Soccer tournament #2 – Pensacola

I really need to make more time for blogging. You shouldn’t have to look at a picture of my desk for this long. (Though it is still neat, I’m proud to say.) (I say this like my blog is something people just “drop by” to see if I’ve written anything new.)

I think part of it is that I have all these pictures from the soccer tournament earlier this month that I need to finish editing to upload, but I’m just kind of blah. Here, how about just a few?

Quick (yeah right) recap of the tournament weekend.

I flew home from Orlando. Linus was sick, got him to the doctor, he wasn’t contagious, but by the time we got his prescription filled, it was 6pm, and there was traffic, and we didn’t get to our hotel until close to 11. And I hurt my back getting frantically packed.

First game Saturday morning, a win! Linus didn’t play, he spectated instead. I think he got really annoyed with me for asking so many questions, so he decided he felt well enough to play the later game. Which they also won!

Game 1: 4-1 win!

Game 2: 4-2 win! (A lot of pics, but the light was just so beautiful at that time of day)

Saturday night, the kids swam a bit in the hotel pool while the parents watched and partook in an adult beverage if they wished, and then we all ate pizza and went to bed. Sunday morning was another game! Which…they won! Which also meant that we’d be staying later for the finals. Remember, I’d been gone for the whole week prior, so all I wanted was to go home and sleep in my own bed.

Game 3: 6-2 victory!

Of course, I was proud they were heading to the finals of their second tournament. But I was also tired. So tired.

Anyway, the fourth game rolls around. It’s hot. And this game was hard fought. It was a nail-biter. No one was scoring. Both teams were really great! And so after overtime (or whatever they call it) the score was still 0-0! ACK!

So it went to penalty kicks! Eek, this is like World Cup level stuff, right? (I dunno, I didn’t watch it.) The deal is, whichever team gets to 3 penalty kicks wins.

The other team kicks…and misses!

Our team kicks…and gets it in!

They kick…and miss!

We kick…and get it in!

They kick…our goalie stops it!

We kick…it goes in!

Eeeeeeee! It was very exciting. All the kids went nuts, and let’s be honest, so did the parents. It was awesome!

Champs again!

 

My desk

I have been utilizing the services of a coach at work to help me with time management and today we talked about the state of my desk and how it affects my productivity and stress levels. So my assignment at the end of today’s session was to clean off my desk, take a picture of it, and blog about it. (I was going to post it on one of our internal blogs at work, but someone did a “show your desk” thread a few months ago, so I figured I’d post it here instead. I mean, if you want to show a picture of your desk in the comments, feel free!) The blogging part is for accountability, and if you look in the menu up at the top and see all those 365 projects I did way back in the day, external validation is a powerful motivator for me. (Words of affirmation are my love language, yo.)

(Also gifts.)

I’m getting off topic.

Voila!

Somehow it looks way neater in real life. But trust me that is as clean as it gets. Hooray!

Next step: Every morning, I will spend five minutes straightening it up before starting my day. (Hopefully won’t be too necessary, but just in case.)

PS Cleaning up my desk had a beneficial side effect: that Amazon gift card had $15 on it!

Grand Meetup 2018 – Orlando!

Before too much time passes, I have to blog about this year’s Grand Meetup! It was my fifth, can you believe it? (In a way, it’s my sixth at Automattic, but I didn’t go to the 2013 one – but I was on trial and I sure did work my butt off while it happened.)

I hate to say it, but I wasn’t as excited about the GM this year as I have been in the past. I mean, Orlando? It’s hot, whine, whine. One of the greatest things about the GM for the past four years has been the weather. Actual fall weather! In the mountains! And the forecast for Orlando was hotter than New Orleans, bleh. And the only mountain around was Space Mountain, and I wasn’t going to be going near that. And I wouldn’t go on it even if I could (THANKS DAD FOR SCARRING ME FOR LIFE.)

On the bright side, the flight was under two hours and direct! That almost made up for the weather. I mean, not having to take two long flights to Vancouver and then sit on a bus for two hours to get to a (granted, gorgeous, luxurious mountain) resort was amazing. And I did sew all of the clothes I wore (with the exception of my bathing suit and workout clothes and one team t-shirt) so that was stressful fun.

But once I got to the airport in Orlando and started seeing friends, and then to the hotel, well, you know, it was awesome. The whole thing.

We arrived on Saturday and the opening party was around the pool at the hotel. We got fancy water bottles and fun buttons to attach to our lanyards. Needless to say, there was plenty of food and drink and lots of people to catch up with. Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, the boys were at a soccer game, and Miles scored his first goal of competitive soccer! This mama got pretty weepy at having missed it. (Thanks beer!) Sigh. But still, a great night.

Work started the next day – we spent it with our team. Actually, I spent the whole week working with my team, but some people spent other days in classes or working on projects. And then we did have some downtime for socializing. Like in the party suites. And at Disney Springs. Even went to Orangetheory one day.

But the VERY BEST PART of the whole week (erm, aside from, you know, uh, hanging out with my amazing colleagues) was Tuesday night.

Dinner at Harry Potter World!

Ack!

After hours – so we had that section of Universal to ourselves! It was seriously magical. Of course, I had special outfits for the entire day. My day outfit was my Harry Potter t-shirt with a pinafore, and my evening outfit for HP World was a Harry Potter skirt. We got to ride the rides and there was food and drinks and we could get free ice cream and wander around Diagon Alley and eeeek, it was so awesome. Words can’t really describe. Fortunately, I took pics. Natch.

One of the best parts about the GM for me (and the most nerve-wracking) is meeting all of the people I’d interviewed and/or hired over the past year. One of the days we had a Happiness Hour, where all of the Happiness team got together and did some activities (like writing cards that were delivered throughout the GM) and got t-shirts and hung out. The crazy thing is that Happiness is now the size (or maybe bigger) than the whole company was when I joined. Insane!

Sadly, I had to leave a day early because of the boys’ soccer tournament in Pensacola (yes, also Florida) but that’s a post for another day….