Sabbatical so far (days 1-19)

You know what’s funny? I was going to try to blog every day of my sabbatical.

Ha hahahahha ha ha ha!

Well. You know, when you don’t have to sit in front of your computer every day, you’re really not inclined to sit in front of your computer if you don’t have to.

So, I’ll just update you on what I’ve been up to in my days of leisure since my last real blog post. One pic per day. (ish)

Day 1: Worked out, sewed a ton, joked about eating bon bons on couch, but definitely did eat bon bons on couch.

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Day 2: Sewed a ton. Made a Christmas tree skirt! (I know, I already blogged about that.)

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Day 3: Finished 20 toast-themed scrunchies for a friend who owns a local chain of restaurants called, you guessed it, Toast. (yum)

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Day 4: Stephanie and I wore the Mexican tablecloth skirts I made while we sang a duet of The Christmas Song. Just be glad this isn’t a video.

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Day 5: I went Christmas shopping and got the boys this ornament. Summed up their 2018 nicely.

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Day 6: Finally! Kiki’s annual box of cookies arrived! And the jersey Linus ordered that was almost exactly like the one I had ordered for him for Christmas! (Just a different player on the back, which fortunately makes it EXTREMELY different in his eyes.) This got long so click to read more

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Sabbatical life

It’s day 2 of my sabbatical. TIME IS FLYING. Just kidding. It’s 10:30 in the morning and I’ve been up for hours and have already gone to Home Depot for some random things, made a tree skirt, trimmed the Christmas tree (I mean literally, the branches at the bottom were too low to allow gifts to fit), trimmed the Christmas tree (I mean, I put a few ornaments on, but outsourcing the rest to the boys), and made a to-do list for stuff I need to sew.

I think it’s time for a Christmas movie on Netflix and hot chocolate.

 

Christmas 2017!

Obviously, I wrote this post last week. Oops!

I can’t believe Christmas was two days ago already! Ain’t that how it goes. The post-holiday blues are settling in a bit, so I’m glad tomorrow we’ll be heading to Baton Rouge to spend time with my sister and her family.

Anyway, we had a nice Christmas. We had steak for dinner on Christmas eve, and then the boys and I read The Night Before Christmas together (cue heart melting) and I made them take pictures with their stockings, and then I sent them to bed so Santa could come. (Not that they believe, but they like to pretend anyway.)

I spent another hour wrapping a bazillion presents and drinking my traditional eggnog daiquiri that I had procured earlier in the day. And then I put together the eggnog French toast we were going to have for breakfast. (Yeah, I like eggnog.)

img_6215We were ready!

The next morning, the boys were up before 7, but I told them they weren’t allowed to wake us up until then. But at 7 on the dot, they dragged me out of bed to open their gifts.

We had quite the pile under the tree, and we all made pretty quick work of it. Their big present was my old laptop from work (I got my new one last week) so I wrapped up the old box to remind them why they didn’t get anything huge.

They got clothes and drawing supplies and lots of Pop figures (they’re obsessed) and books and new towels. (I know, towels don’t seem super exciting for 10 year old boys, but they have been complaining about the size of our bath towels so I got them each their own bath sheet.)

I also made out like a bandit. I got a lovely necklace that the boys picked out, a bracelet with a stamped piece (101010 on one side, 42 on the other – 42 is my lucky number, and 101010 is 42 in binary, and also this year the boys are 10 and I am 42.) I also got an electric wine opener and a Tile and a new skillet from Kiki. Oh! And a case for my new laptop. And a coloring book that is for grown-up eyes only. Oh! And a macro lens and case for my phone. (Would love the telephoto lens too, thank goodness my birthday is next week, eh?) Man, I got spoiled. The boys also got me cards and Oliver wrote I was the best mom on Earth, which made me cry. (Sorry, all other moms on Earth!)

 

Anyway, after that excitement was over, we had breakfast and I made a salad to bring to the pub later. Yep, George’s dream came true and we got to spend Christmas at the pub. There was a huge spread of food and a bunch of our friends and thankfully a friend of the boys’ as well. It was a lovely lunch, but we did miss having family around.

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Later, I brought the boys home with their friend Ethan, and they played Just Dance, which was adorbs.

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And after Ethan went home, Linus and Oliver and I played Ticket to Ride, which was fun and only resulted in a few fights and tears. I also made the bittersweet discovery that they like tamales, which is bittersweet because Terry makes them only at certain times of year, and now I have to share them. Ugh. (Fortunately, I found that Costco sells decent ones that they’ll eat.)

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The end!

2017 Holiday cards, virtual edition

I really have no excuse, but I just didn’t get it together in time to order nice photo cards for the holidays. Well, I nearly did, but then CVS screwed them up, and I didn’t have it in me to try again, and they’d have barely been here in time to mail, so I just bought some cute old-school cards, had some photos printed, and put them inside, just like in the olden days. (And I only sent out like six, but I’d have sent out a bunch more if I’d gotten photo cards.)

Anyway, so then I decided since I’m not actually buying the cards, I can go on the card websites I like and fantasize about the cards I would order! And heck, since I’m not actually buying them, I’m going all out with fancy corners!

From Minted:

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Oh of course, I have to have this one.

But these are cute too:

OH BUT NO.

 

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Next year FOR SURE.

From Paper Culture:

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That’s cute. I came really close to ordering that one.

From Tiny Prints:

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Since we’re fantasizing, I’m going FULL GLITTER.

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Or, why not scalloped edges?

So, there you have it. Your choice of holiday cards to print out and stick to your fridge.

Some outtakes from the photo session:

Individual pics:

Special thanks to the Hawkins for the amazing Christmas jumpers they gave the boys last year when we visited!

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!

UK2016 Part 2a: Cambridge

Read about our time in Wales here.

Wednesday morning, the boys and I caught the train to Cambridge. I was nervous about the journey because I had three boys and two suitcases to deal with and we had to not just switch trains in London, but switch stations by way of the Underground. But not to leave you in too much suspense…it was fine. (George’s journey the next day, by contrast, did not go so swimmingly, but that’s not my story to tell.)

Rachel (Gareth’s sister) picked us up at the train station and we headed to a shopping center to meet up with her boys (Dan, 13, and Ethan, 9) and Pat, their grandmother. The boys were so excited to see Dan and Ethan, and it was really cute when they saw each other and were all shy for about 12 seconds. (You might remember, they visited New Orleans back in May and the boys became fast friends.)

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The boys at the cricket/dragon/cockroach clock

We were going to be experiencing something extremely British that evening – a panto! Before showtime, we wandered a bit around Cambridge, getting a snack and seeing some of the sights.

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Merry Christmas Eve!

We have been having an amazing time on our trip so far, but I didn’t bring my laptop so I won’t be posting much until we get home. But I can’t resist sharing a few from my phone….

On a walk in Caerleon
Off to visit St Fagans in Wales
Linus doesn’t want to take a pic with me
Miles at the seaside in Barry Island (Wales)
On the train to Cambridge
On the train
In front of the crickety clock in Cambridge
Punting in Cambridge
Daddy and his boys
Mince pies!

Quick Christmas recap

Christmas 2015: It was hot.

There.

Oh, well, there’s more.

I made us all steak and crispy gnocchi for Christmas Eve dinner (and now I’ve found that they love gnocchi so win!) and put a batch of eggnog French Toast in the fridge to soak overnight. And then drank the rest of the eggnog with Winter Pimm’s, which I’m sorry to say is impossible to buy in the US but is really good in eggnog.

I also spent made lemon cake and lemon bars from the lemons on our tree in the backyard. I am quite proud of that, I have to say.

Christmas morning, the boys were kind enough to not leave their room until 7 am (remember that one Christmas when I got up before them and got to enjoy my coffee and sit in front of the fire? (Of course I mean “the fire channel on TV.”) Yeah, that was nice. Maybe it’ll happen again when they’re teenagers.

So at the stroke of 7, the gift opening commenced!

Gifts from Santa were opened first…Linus got a 3DS game that he’d been coveting, Oliver a couple of books and a Rubic’s cube, and Miles got some accessories for his faux GoPro. I think Oliver got a bit cheated, Santa-wise. Dang that Santa. Sigh.

Their favorite part is opening the gifts from each other. Miles got Linus an Amiibo, Oliver got Miles a DVD with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and some kinetic sand, and Linus got Oliver a Diary of a Wimpy kid activity book and a little binder for Pokemon cards.

I got to open my gifts next. A silly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ mug, some dog toys (well, they’re for me in that…the dog will stay occupied while I work?) and an Instant Pot. I’m really excited by that, I’ve been wanting a pressure cooker for a while. I made hard boiled eggs in it (easy!) and a pot roast (may have overcooked that.) So if you have any pressure cooker recipes that you like, send ’em my way.

My mom and Larry came over for Christmas dinner, which was delicious.

Later, we went to Chris and Steph’s house where we, you know, ate a little more, and Ziggy wore himself out playing with the other dogs.

All in all a pretty calm (I was going to say “chill” but it was SO FREAKING HOT AND HUMID I cannot even use that word) Christmas, and hopefully next year the boys won’t be so dang hard to shop for.

It’s Christmas Eve Eve!

And the boys’ Christmas present is feeling much better. Which equals more hyper and more chewing on random things, like my favorite pillow that I brought back from London, and the loop on Oliver’s stocking.

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He’s a little bigger now.

I mean, nothing too bad, nothing that can’t be clumsily repaired or anything. But still. My main concern is my beloved ottoman that I got this summer. I’m sure it’s extremely tasty. Oh, and his harness. So that means we can’t go for a walk until I go get a new one, which means he has a lot of energy that he may funnel into chewing inappropriate things.

We’re just learning as we go along. But even with the occasional accidents (Ziggy does not like going outside in the rain, I mean, I don’t blame him or anything, and it’s been raining all week) he’s been a good doggy.

He also keeps my treadmill warm for me.

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In other news, I’ve taken all three boys shopping for gifts for a brother and Daddy, and it was nice yet again to get that one on one time with them. For my records: Oliver went first, and shopped for Miles; Miles went second and shopped for Linus; and finally, Linus shopped for Oliver.

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Ollie the elf!

We also watched Home Alone for the first time, which the boys found hysterical.

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Oliver said it sounded scary, because being left home alone is basically his worst nightmare, so I had to prove that it actually isn’t a horror film.

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Holiday decorating has taken somewhat of a backseat this year, between Ziggy and annoyingly warm temps, but I did get this adorable Wapuu ornament. Awwww!

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We took the boys to see Star Wars last weekend. It was entertaining! High praise considering I’m generally not a fan of the franchise or anything. It was very bright when we took this picture. Heh.

Today I’m off work and the boys are at holiday camp, so I am going to enjoy my day with some solo shopping (for a dog harness) and a movie with a friend.

Meanwhile, on social media…

Even though I support bloggers all day long, I still tend to post more on Facebook and Twitter than on my blog. I guess because I get more immediate feedback, and I crave feedback in the form of likes and comments. (At least one thing I’ve learned as a Happiness Engineer is that I’m not the only one.)

But there are of course huge drawbacks. Even though, of course, Facebook will store everything we ever write or think and use it against us one day, it’s really hard to go back and find old posts. So I’ve decided I’m going to start sharing some of my FB, Twitter, and Instagram posts here on my blog so I can archive them better.

So here we go, the week of December 21-28, 2014:

December 24, 2014, 1:37 pm
Rip my heart out, Oliver. “I like shopping alone with you because then no one says, ‘ooh triplets!'”

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Ollie's turn!

A post shared by Pam Kocke (@pyjammy) on

December 25, 2014

Mom and Larry win at gift giving!
Mom and Larry win at gift giving!

December 27, 2014, 9:20 pm

Renny and Pammy!
Renny and Pammy!

 

December 28, 2014, 7:14 pm
For the first time ever, I can hear the boys talking to each other in French!*
*it seems to be about poop, the universal language of boys.

Ah, social media. Ain’t it great?!