Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back On Track... More or Less

So I guess I just gave up and now there are piles of things all over the place and just general disarray. Well, I mean, that's how it always is around here. It's just that sometimes I want that to change. But like I explained, so much gets in the way of that. Children. Tasks. Schedules. You know. But both dryer and cold water have been fixed today! So maybe I can start back on all my cleaning and straightening tomorrow. Today was full with driving for a field trip and the beginnings of another snowfall. I guess usually, as far as one's day goes, snow is neither here nor there, but I have been looking for a good coat for Aug to wear in the snow for a while and he just grew out of his mittens. And Elspeth doesn't have any mittens to begin with. I had been casually looking because really, I have been surprised how little there is in the stores with two cold months still ahead (three really since when I started shopping the week after Christmas). So as the snow came down there was no avoiding it, I had to go shopping in the snow so that tomorrow, after we accumulate anywhere from 3 to 12 inches (I guess it just depends on who you ask. I don't suppose meteorology is an exact science), my children can go playing in the snow. The shopping went well though. I got August a coat for $10 and two pairs of pants for $4 a piece. Where? Oh, Old Navy. I do so enjoy the prices at Old Navy. But everything is pretty picked over. And I had looked at two other Old Navy stores previously with no success. So don't rush out to Old Navy, but if you're in the area, good prices await on the few winter items that remain. Anyway, think of all the problems solved today! Pants with holes? How about two pairs for eight dollars? No cold water? How about some this afternoon? Broken dryer? Maybe you husband can break off the broken part and replace it! So, all in all, a pretty good day. And certainly a much better day than the one before it.

Plus (and you thought I wouldn't mention it!), Lost is back on! Very exciting! And frustrating. 'Cause see, I'm still not really ready for Charlie to be dead. And every episode really just raises more questions and doesn't answer hardly any, if any at all. But it's back on. And we're closer to knowing something.

Anything else? Nope. Just field trip, shopping, Lost. That was my day. It seems like there should be something with more significance in there. But I guess the mittens matter. And field trips are good. I don't know; it's too late for perspective. I'll have perspective with coffee tomorrow, preferably coffee drunk whilst wearing my fluffy pink robe and my blue woolly slippers around eight thirty, and not coffee drunk in haste whilst driving carpool and trying to make my morning pizza meeting (Dear God, save me from ever being involved in a fiasco like this pizza pandemonium again!) at well, let's face it, probably also eight thirty- but dressed, cranky about being late and cold, and tired because I'm still up blogging at 11:45. In other words, our household has high hopes for a snow day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nothing to Worry About, Just Having a Little Bit of a Breakdown

Well, you know it's bad when the Emu song on the Wiggles video makes you cry. First of all, I think it is just nostalgia. That Wiggles video was Amabel's when she was Elspeth's age, so that alone is kind of sad. Also, it's from the Crocodile Hunter Wiggles video. Also sad. I loved the Crocodile Hunter. I felt so silly for being sad when he died. But he was so endearing and energetic. And I think of his family and feel so much for them. But honestly, I am not that selfless. No, my friends, I am just having a bad day.

First of all, have you ever heard of the cold water not working? Sure, the hot water heater breaking or something like that has happened before, but it's kind of bizarre not having cold water. And cold water is what tempers hot water, as in if you don't have cold water, you only have the very very hottest water. So that puts a damper on things. It's only in the kitchen, which is why George says it's a hose. But who knows when we'll get a new hose. Because these are new hoses actually, which George installed, so now he thinks he should get someone else to install them. I think? Anyway, the water is boiling hot. And I'm having a cleaning attack. When you can't get to temperate water, it does put a damper on the scrubbing and cleaning aspect of a cleaning attack. So I decided to straighten. I don't have a space for everything. It was already a problem, but it became compounded with the arrival of five boxes via UPS at Christmas. And that was just from one family member. With all the other family members' contributions, our home is exploding. I know I should be grateful. And I am. I just get overwhelmed. I still have wedding gifts I never use. And while all gifts are well meant, what do you do if you just can't use them or have too much of one thing (toys, for example!)? I feel so bad because it's people's money and time that they spent on me and my family. And then there is the environmental issue of how in our country we just throw stuff out. Yikes. While we were in Alabama, I saw a picture in a National Geographic where old computers are just dumped in third world countries. So even if I give everything I don't need to a charity, what's to say it doesn't go to a third world country's beaches or into a landfill? Meanwhile, my home is becoming a landfill!

I often think of selling these things on ebay or in a garage sale. But what a hassle! Be gone, unwanted stuff! Even as I sit at the computer, I am looking at ten boxes of books still packed from our last move. My feeling is that if these books have not been wanted in a year and a half, we do not need them. But, two things, first, my husband is a pack rat. He comes by it honestly, his mother is the queen of pack rats. She never knows when she will need something and swears by "it's still perfectly good," so she never throws anything out. I admire that she does not buy into the idea that everything is disposable, but I don't have a three bedroom house with a full basement all to myself to store things in. My Nannie, former queen of pack rats, died last year with a house full to the brim of every picture or newspaper clipping that ever caught her eye, every sweater or blanket she ever owned, the remnants of paper products from every party she ever had (we found some really cute 60s looking cowboy paper placemats!), etc. And we're talking every drawer so full it almost wouldn't open, every cabinet, every chest, every purse, and on and on. Okay, so George's mom isn't that way, but George may be on his way! Anyway, the point is, that everything just got thrown out. No one had the patience for it. I am so sad to think of what treasures may have been tossed or even where it all ended up, but I was not allowed to be part of the process, so I had no hand in the matter. Anyway, it does no good to save things you will never use, because in the end, it will just get thrown out anyway. So why not have a pleasant clutter free life until then?

The second thing is the money. I mean, I almost never want to throw out stuff I bought myself. It is usually a gift that I didn't need in the first place but either felt guilty to return it or didn't know where to return it. I feel guilty even saying that I wanted to return things. I'm afraid it sounds snobby. Besides the fact that so often when I return something, I know the person has lost money. They say, "well this was just marked down to $3.99 and you know it cost ten times that!"So they have lost money and in a way I have too, and I have certainly lost time in running around town returning things. But I feel rude to point this out. It was a gift, so what am I complaining about? But you know, there is a reason why people register for things! They know what they need! And I would guess that we got about 30% of what was on our wedding registry. We got loads of other things, but none of the mundane stuff. And there you have it. No one wants to give the mundane stuff. I know I don't. So you find that you are in need of the mundane stuff. For example, we didn't get any sheets when we got married. So what we have are my parents' old sheets that they didn't use anymore. We're talking 20 year old sheets by now! But I don't want to tell anyone I need sheets because they will want to pick them out. And I don't want them to pick them out. This is my problem. People want to give you what they want to give you. But you want them to give you what you want them to give you. And it rarely works out. So then you are stuck with 20 year old sheets, but nine different picture frames that don't match your decor; 10 year old dingy towels with holes but the most unique looking pewter tray; threadbare pjs for the kids, but eleven brand new never played with (nor will be played with) build-a-bears. You know. Do you? Does anyone else have this problem?

So anyway, that's the straightening thing. It's just being overwhelmed with a lot of stuff I don't want or need, but feeling guilty because I should be thankful, but also running through my mental "we need__" list, wondering how we'll ever get those things, and feeling that if only I could sell what I do have for what we need, it would be so nice, except that you only get a fraction of what someone paid when you resell. And of course, I don't have time to do that. And this is what plagues me. Having so much that I don't want and wanting so much that I don't have.

All of that, I just run myself down with it while going about my day. And then in two weeks, I have pulled five pairs of pants out of the dryer with holes in them. And my sixteen month old is a little like a tornado that blows through my house every twenty minutes, destroying any amount of straightening I may have been able to accomplish in spite of my mental guilt attack. And the cold water. And the dryer. And well, that's about it. But I am not handling it well. As you can see.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dusting Off the Old College Degree

Remember how my dryer is broken? It is really annoying. It took a load of clothes almost four hours to dry today. Nice. So Craig's List, here we come. But you want to know what is more annoying than that? Masterpiece Theater's adaptation of Mansfield Park. Terrible. Truly wretched. I mean, Clueless is closer to Emma and Bridget Jones' Diary is closer to Pride and Prejudice than this rubbish was to Mansfield Park. Or at the very least they were more acceptable because they were not trying to be right on the money. And what I am so surprised about is that no one else seems to think it was that bad! There are a few bad reviews on blogs. But the LA Times and The Boston Globe thought it was fantastic. Have these people ever read a Jane Austen book? And yeah, it does sound a little arrogant for a stay at home mommy in St. Louis, Missouri with a broken dryer and a piddly BA in English from Auburn University to think she knows better than the Masterpiece Theater dudes and the Boston Globe dudes and the LA Times dudes. But so be it. I am actually having a nice little boost to my confidence right now. I mean it's not that I'm any smarter than I was a day ago, it's just that I realized how stupid all those other guys are out there! And they have good jobs. Maybe when the kids grow up, I can get me a job! I will have to stop using Southern colloquialisms though. And fragments. I do so like to employ fragments. It's as if I'm talking to you. My dear little blog world friends.

And speaking of you all, I have been really bad at checking everyone else's goings ons. I'm pretty selfish here with my jaunts down to Alabamy and my child's social crises and my broken dryer. So if you have a tracking thingamabob, don't give up on me. I'll be over shortly. That is truly priceless. Spell check recognizes thingamabob as a word. But there are so often so many other words I have to check at Merriam Webster's only to find that they are indeed words. Yet there's no problem with thingamabob. And I thought I was just making up a spelling.

Incidentally, I got this little piece of news while I was down South (post still forthcoming about the trip): My creative writing teacher from Auburn, actually my poetry writing teacher, Natasha Trethewey, won a Pulitzer Prize for her most recent poetry collection! Wow! I am really excited for her. She was really different from me as far as style goes. As in, she could actually write something that didn't sound like a nursery rhyme! But she was always really positive and energetic no matter how bad my writing was! George had more classes with her than I did actually, but really our writing classes were so small that we had great access to her. She was super helpful, and it's really cool to think that I have handwritten notes from a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, even that I studied under a Pulitzer Prize winning poet! How's that for the resume?! I bet the Boston Globe dudes and the LA Times dudes can't all say that. It sort of takes some credibility away from me though when I call people dudes though huh? Well, anyway link to find her picture (she is beautiful) and read one of her poems and links to her books and all kinds of goodies. The St. Louis County Libraries do have copies of all three of her collections, but I think I may just have to tuck a copy of Native Guard away in my Amazon shopping cart so I can actually own it.

Other things in my Amazon shopping cart right now? Two books George put in that I have never heard of ( The Good Solider Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War by Jaroslav Hasek and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, okay so I think I have heard of that one), Fables by Arnold Lobel (which has been there for almost a year so I don't think we ever will really buy it), Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor (it's on backorder though, wah), and Let's Make a Joyful Noise:Celebrating Psalm 100 by Karma Wilson (to be released in March! Hurray!). Things on my Amazon wish list? Now that's another story. But maybe I can narrow it down to things soon to be transfered from my wish list to my shopping cart. I think the biggest new venture for me is that I am fixing to embark on an exploration of Jane Austen's shorter works. If PBS cannot satisfy me, then I shall just have to find more from Miss Austen to satisfy me. I have never read "Lady Susan," "the Watsons," "Sandition," "Lesley Castle," "Catharine" etc. And one thing is for certain, they could certainly not be as insipid (now there's a Jane Austen-ish word, though too generous in this instance) as the PBS Austen.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm Gonna Need a Little Help On This One

Be forewarned, I want to have a discussion. So that means you are entering this post with an obligation. Discuss. I'm firm on this. You do have something to say. Because you were all in elementary school once. And high school. And beyond. I am going to have a little trouble not being judgmental. And you will have to forgive me for that. Because I truly do want the insight of the side opposite the side I am familiar with. I know there has to be a mindset or a justification or perhaps, a sort of innocence that comes with this. And hey, wouldn't it be the strangest thing if I turned out to be guilty anyway. Let me hear that too. Kumbaya, guys. We are all here to understand and get along.

Okay, seriously though, what is the deal? I really want to know, so your insight is valuable, even as a "perpetrator." Amabel came home today and told me something, not for the first time, second time, or even the third time this year, that no one would play with her today at recess. What in the world?! Have any of y'all ever been around Amabel? I mean, I'm no first grader and I am rather biased as her mother, but she really is a sweet little girl. She is funny and smart and kind. And the thing is, I have heard other mothers say this sort of thing happens to their kids, kids that are also sweet and cute and kind. Maybe it is a universal "kids are mean" kind of thing, but I just don't understand. Moreover, it is not that she is just not being invited to play, it is that she is actually asking kids if she can play with them and they are saying no! Not just one kid either. Like she asks this kid and she says no so she goes and asks a kid in another group and she says no. I am starting to think it needs to be mentioned to the administration. So maybe y'all think that is overreacting and I am fine if you want to say that. My feeling is that this is a Christian school where the kids are being taught to actively care for God's creatures by caring for plants, animals, and even worms! They sponsor orphans overseas and are learning again and again that God's creatures are valuable, and particularly that people are made in God's image and have dignity. And then they treat each other that way?!

Okay, so I am really sensitive. And evidently, I have the bar raised too high for how nice we should be to each other. Or so I'm told. I am not saying that Amabel should have the red carpet rolled out for her. And like I said, if she was telling me no one was playing with her and she meant that no one was inviting her to play, although I would be sad about it, I would encourage her to make an effort on her own to invite them to play with her. But she's doing that! Now also, this doesn't happen every day. But I don't understand why it is happening at all. I know she is discouraged even though she handles it very well. It breaks my heart for her because I don't want her to get the message somehow that she is just not fun or that no one wants to be her friend. I know that is a leap. But it really only takes the same person/people doing the same thing for just so long before you really start to take that message they're sending you to heart.

We had a great time at our friends' river house, by the way, but I shall save that post for another time. While we were there though my friend Rebekah and I had a conversation about a situation in my past where an individual essentially sabotaged my efforts to join a group and make new friends. Particulars beyond that might reveal too much, but suffice it to say that this situation was really difficult for me and I cannot see any way that this person could not have known exactly what they were doing. And I had a hard time for the rest of the day after Rebekah and I talked about that, trying to shake off what happened to me during that time, years ago now, because remembering it brought it to mind so much more clearly (hindsight's 20/20 and all that) how unjust and unkind this individual had been to me. I was unaware until we discussed it how much I had absorbed the feelings of exclusion and loneliness into my psyche. Okay, that sounds weird, but I guess I just mean that I really bought into this message that I was unwelcome and just someone that people did not want around. And if you know me, you know that's exactly how I act, like "please do excuse me for being alive and in your way; I must be going now." I think there are other factors to that, not that this one person is completely to blame. But my point is that since then I have kind of been standing back saying "What the heck?! Why are people deliberately unkind? Why do they deliberately leave people out?" (And incidentally, "why am I so quick to think it is just me that is unlovable and not that this other person is unloving?")

Then I have also had a conversation with another mom, like I said, who is having a similar problem with her child at the school her child attends, and then today Amabel comes home with this! And you know, the whole "kids are mean" thing? Why are kids mean? I know that they are selfish and immature. Heck, I'm selfish and immature. I just don't understand the exclusion thing. Or like how in fifth grade Holly Davis regularly made fun of my clothes. Yeah, she would pretend to like them and then she would ask me where I got them. Well, then I would tell her Carter's or Ross Dress For Less and she would repeat it like "Oh....Carter's" and sort of giggle like she just needed to know where they were from to complete the joke. Whatever, I'm sure I totally dressed like a dork. But I just never was one of those kids that decided I didn't like someone or made fun of someone. I only didn't get along with people if they didn't like me, or, let's just be honest here, if it was behind their back. I know I said some ugly things a time or two behind someone's back to get a laugh. But no one's laughing but you if you say it in front of someone and mortify them. No one with feelings anyway. And who just decides not to like someone? The only reason to not like someone is because they are not nice to you. And that takes us back to why aren't people nice?

Well, don't I sound self righteous? I really don't mean to. I understand this on some level, I think. And I can bet I would be very humbled if I was shown a list of all the people I had been not nice to for no reason even if I can't remember now. But I just wonder what y'all have to say. Were you an excluder? I'm sure you're not now, but just help me understand why you were way back when. Or were you often excluded? Why do you think that was? Everyone comment. Tell me to beat down the door of the headmistress' office or to let my six year old fight her own battles. I am listening. To anyone except Holly Davis. Holly Davis, do not comment. You are not very nice and none of us wants to hear what you have to say. (But in case you really are out there and you're wondering, right now I am wearing a wonderfully soft and fuzzy pink robe that George got me for my birthday from the Gap, a really really old Auburn RUF tee shirt, and Old Navy pajama pants.) Good night, all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Stinky Situation

I totally don't have time for this post but I'm writing it anyway. First of all, I don't have time because our computer is really really slow for some reason. As in right now, the last word I can see is "because" even though I have typed a lot more. They just don't show up for a while. How annoying. But it lets me know how good of a typist I am after all. I'm not too bad really. Anyway, I also don't have time because I am packing. I am so sorry friends in Nashville and Birmingham, but even though we will be down that way I do not think we will be able to come by. To see any of you. Our friends have graciously invited us to their river house on the Black Warrior River again. And that means we won't actually spend any time in Birmingham. And then just because it's during the school year, we decided we couldn't linger in Nashville. So if I happen to grab a minute, I'll call. But I think it is just going to be whoosh! Right now the last word I can see is think. And I have been sitting here for a while waiting for it to catch up. It is still stuck on think even now. Ugh! Anyway, the other thing that is broken is our dryer. And the night before a trip is no time for the dryer to be breaking. Hello! Someone please explain this to my dryer. Anyway, I am sitting here waiting for George to put the front back on the dryer so we can try it out again and continue the laundry. I know it seems last minute. But laundry has to be last minute for a trip. How else do you have clean stuff? We all tried to wear stuff today that we didn't plan on bringing. But you know. So anyway, here I am posting about why I am posting and should not be. Thrilling I know. The last time I typed what I could last see just showed up and I see that I said I could see the word "think," but the word "think" was actually in the sentence before, but the "think" that I was referring to was actually the "think" in the sentence where I explained to the Nashville and Birmingham people that we would not be seeing them. The last word I can see right now is "is" in the "the night before a trip is..." I have no idea what I wrote back then. It was ages ago!

Okay, so what is this post even supposed to be about? I'm so glad you asked. Well, it started with the whole discussion about cream of gross soups. I feel that as I am already sort of outed for the snobby and persnickety person that I am, I might as well and go all the way and confess something very shocking. Okay, are you ready? The last word I can see is laundry. Seriously, this computer is a freak. Anyway, sorry, my confession. Oooh, look at that, I stayed on track even though I couldn't read what I just wrote. That's not really that impressive I don't guess. I mean, I have the memory of the elephant. People tell me all the time. But still, clearly for me, saying on track is pretty good. And now, what has happened is that I made my confession and told this whole story about my sister searching for a signature scent and this whole candle confrontation with my friends and then said how watching all the words show up was like when Harry Potter reads Tom Riddle's diary. And none of it is coming back up. Stink! But we've all invested this much time into this, so I might as well forge ahead. Okay, the confession. I don't know how to say this except to just say it quick. Like pulling off a band aid. I hate scents. There it is. Perfumes. Candles. Shower gel. Gross. I buy free and clear laundry detergent and fabric softener, but that is the end of the story. The beginning starts with, as I mentioned before, my sister searching for her "signature scent."

Does anyone remember when the world went candle crazy and all the sudden there were all these candle boutiques popping up everywhere. And every time you got a gift you knew that either it was a candle or it held candles or that at least it smelled like candles. And by smelling like candles, I am referring to Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works coming on the scene with 101 ways to stink up the shower. That's right. Because my sister had them all! She was on some quest I think, to find the scent that would forever say "Rachael." And for a while I was with her, I thought that it might be cool to have a smell. I think this is mostly from some sort of embarrassing and far fetched desire to be remembered by your scent. You know, like in the commercial, " I just can't seem to forget you, your (what? right, sing it with me) Windsong stays on my mind." So for a while I wore Victoria Secret's "jasmine." I actually liked "freesia" better, but my friend Michelle had dibs on "freesia." So it was "jasmine." Which was appropriate because this was the same time that Aladdin came out. Okay, so that was my Sophomore year in high school which was also the year I was in the big car accident and had to wear an immobilizer thingy on my leg for six weeks- my leg, which was daily soaked in jasmine scented lotion and so the immobilizer was also soaked in it. Trust me, after the immobilizer came off, I threw all remaining traces of that scent away. But oh yes, I can smell it even now, "your jasmine stays on my mind...." I wonder if Brian, my "boyfriend" at the time could have even picked it out back then. No, I'm sure. Silly silly.

So even then, I was sort of off board with the whole perfume and candles thing. I never knew what to do with candles. My other sister had some floating in a fish bowl on top of her stereo. Even typing that is hilarious to me because duh! But we didn't know. And then one day that heat built up over the water in the fish bowl and *kablooey* and her stereo was ruined. But I just never knew what to do with them. So on my 21st birthday my two best friends and I were going to our traditional birthday breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in, hope you like it, Opelika. And I was going on and on about how candles were dumb. I don't know why. But it suddenly occurred to me that their were unopened gifts present that may well be candles. Or what if they had given me a candle before and I forgot? Or what if they loved candles? So I started back pedaling but it was a little late because I had really let them know my feelings about candles. Why was I so upset about candles? Anyway, Jennie got what I was doing and interrupted with "don't worry, we didn't get you candles!" Phew! And what they did get me was very me and I still have it in my living room, a cool mirror by Dancing Dryads which is this really neat company that makes frames out of wood from old houses. You know how I like the distressed look. Maybe because I can relate. To being distressed.

Anyway, this is an awful lot to have written and still not really have said anything. But is that what y'all are always thinking? C'mon, it is isn't it? Well, come on, let's keep it going. The dryer's still broken so we've got time. Except there's a hundred other things I should be doing. Anyway, Elspeth is allergic to fragrance. I mean, she really is. And nothing is more annoying to me than getting her back from a babysitter or the nursery and she reeks of perfume! Because even if she wasn't allergic, if you are caring for children, you might be sensitive to not overpowering them with your perfume. It is bad enough that we all have to smell it, but I don't want my baby smelling like a grandma or a young, "seductive" single! Yuck! So last year I went through this whole time of changing over to fragrance free lotions and soaps and detergents and diapers and wipes just trying to alleviate her problem with her skin. And I wasn't ever buying perfumed stuff for the smell, but you know, most things just have fragrance in them and you really have to go out of your way to avoid them. Which is what I do now. So I went to Sam's a few weeks ago to get some detergent and they didn't have anything without fragrance. I needed that detergent yesterday at that point so I hoped Elspeth had grown out of her problem. (People said she eventually would and she has been doing much better this year.) But she has bumps all over now, poor thing. And even if she was fine, my laundry is making me want to gag. So I went to Target today and bought all fragrance free again. And I am so happy.

And I was walking through the parking lot (which is another story I will tell another day) and I was thinking "I'm going to blog about this because this is just like on The Office." And what I mean about The Office is that last night we saw the episode where the Connecticut office merges into the Scranton office and Karen says it smells like a funeral parlor at her desk. Phyllis offers help Karen find the smell and comes over so that Karen realizes the smell is actually Phyllis' perfume. Phyllis is offended, even though Karen tries to "back pedal", and says it was a gift from Bob Vance (as if that will compensate for the stench or change Karen's mind.) Anyway, this is a situation I would likely find myself in if I weren't pretty quick to identify where the stench comes from. I mean, I'm not going to give out names, but I have to say that I know some people with some nauseating "signature scents." None of them read this, of course, so no, I am not talking about your perfume. But is it just me? And what can I do about it? The first step? Letting you people know so you keep away from me and my baby if you decide to get your own "signature scent." But I am convinced it is not just me. And I feel that second hand perfume is as bad as second hand smoke, except for the health risks. But stink wise, both are enough to make me sick. And I think I am much likelier to be sick from too much Tresor than I am from too much cigarette smoke. Seriously, if you gave me the choice, I think I'd rather sit by the chain smoker.

Alright, I said it. I feel much better though. I truly do. Oh, except for one minor disclaimer. I think this was the possible misunderstanding with the food thing too. If it is a natural scent, as in an actual living plant, I don't mind. But something that says it smells like such and such a plant never really does. So I am not saying I don't like flowers; I am saying I don't like fake fragrances. That's all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trying Out Some Trends

If you've seen me looking extra dorky lately, allow me to explain. I have been trying out two trends this week because they are very practical for me and I decided to give them a whirl. One was an accident and one was premeditated. I'll start with the accident.

Does it just seem like homes with all hardwoods are colder? I guess in many ways to me, they are cozier and homier, but literally speaking, they are colder. And maybe this stands to reason. Maybe carpet holds on to heat or something. But anyway, some days I just cannot get warm enough. I have so much hair that it makes more sense for me to wash it at night, but even if I had thin, short hair I think I would still need a shower at night just to warm up. I have tried robes and layers, but I either feel bulky, like I can't do anything without my sleeves falling in the sink or the dinner I am preparing, or constricted like I'm being hugged too tight by all these layers. There just doesn't seem to be a good comfortable fit in my wardrobe. So the other day I decided to slip a short sleeved shirt on over my long sleeved shirt. It was less bulky than my fleece or one of George's shirts, but not so constricting as putting on another long sleeved tee shirt of the same size over the one I already had on (does this bother anyone else?). George was watching me so I gave this disclaimer (of course) "I know this looks really dorky, but I am cold and I can't find anything else comfortable." And to my surprise he said, "actually, I think it looks cool. Kinda sporty." So I wasn't so convinced until two days later. We had been reminded on Thursday that Amabel did not have school on Friday. Normally I would've loosely planned my week around this, but I didn't remember. So I was pretty surprised that my mother-in-law did. Evidently, I had actually told her about it months ago, she had asked for the day off way back then and just found out that she could get it off on Thursday afternoon. So she called Thursday evening to see if we wouldn't all like to go out to breakfast and then to the Magic House. She and I have only ever twice done something together with the kids and not in the past year at least so I was kind of excited and said yes right away. Of course, I had a ton of laundry and errands to do that I completely forgot about until Friday morning when I was trying to get dressed for our outing and couldn't find anything to wear. I remembered George's affirmation and decided to try out my makeshift outfit one more time- different shirts, but same look. I felt a little self conscious but that isn't really anything new anyway as my jeans are always falling down. (I am sorry but this low rise trend has got to end!) Anyway, I saw at least two other moms at the Magic House with the exact same thing going on! (Two was confirmation so I quit worrying about it after that.) It's sort of a strange thing to wear, I totally remember it from junior high! But all of my thread bare long sleeved white tee shirts with the beginnings of holes in them and spaghetti sauce spatter stains from careless cooking on them have new life breathed into them now because I can cover them up with short sleeved tee shirts! What an economical trend!

The other trend is one I'm still not sure about. I am also not sure how long it has been going on. George and I got a chance to go out to dinner and a movie last night. We had some free movie passes and George's mom offered to watch the kids for us and to feed them dinner so we went to McAlister's first. Incidentally, BOO McAlister's! You have changed and for the worse! The menu is not on chalkboards anymore. And the menu has bizarre things on it now like chicken cordon blue! Gross! You know what that is. It's chicken stuffed with ham and cheese. It's disgusting. And they have it pictured on these black plastic plates. Remember the baskets? They have been plastic for a while. But plastic plates now? And the plaid? The plaid is really cheap looking now. It just screams "big bad spread to thin, too big for our britches, chain store!" Now I know that if you went to Mississippi State and ate at the Bulldog Deli or even if you went to Ole Miss and frequented the "original" McAlister's, you might think that the spread to Memphis or Jackson or Auburn was too much. That's where I came in and I thought it was great. So there could've been an earlier lapse of quality that I am unaware of, but the lapse in quality from 1996 when all the McAlister's were listed on the front of the take home menu, when the McAlister's went up on University in Auburn, to now is just awful. As in I am full of awe at the loss of a good thing. I looked at their website and saw that they got a new CEO in 1999. Phil Friedman. Thanks a lot, Phil. You ruined McAlister's. I may never go there again.

Anyway, while I was at a restaurant that slightly resembles one of my favorite places to eat from college, I noticed this girl with a headband on and a pony tail. And I thought, "Hey, that sort of looks strange. And yet, I like it." I tucked it away in my memory, but not for long. The movie theater was crawling with pony tail and head band two timers. And I thought to myself that the thing about that is, I always wear a pony tail. I do this because my hair keeps getting curlier but it is too heavy to hold the curl so it just sort of ripples in an annoying way. Frank helps with this, but Frank is expensive. Thus, the pony tail for two months, a month after every haircut. Also, Frank can't work me in at the last minute very often which is really annoying. And I don't mean last minute like the day of or the day before like you think I mean; I mean last minute like in the next two weeks. And I just can't be making hair appointments four weeks in advance with my crazy life. I finally just had to go to Great Clips last time. And Great Clips stinks. So I paid twenty bucks to continue wearing my hair in pony tail. Nice. But I have always had this thing where I hate to wear a pony tail to church. It's like wearing a pony tail to prom or something. It just looks like no effort. Well, some people can do these sleek looking perfect pony tails with a JCrew hair tie that looks like a model. Mine is like this huge bush of a pony tail with three times the amount of hair that any human should have on her head so that it always breaks the elastic in the hair tie and then weighs down so it looks frumpy five minutes after I pull it back. But a head band sort of dresses up the pony tail. It adds a little something that seems to say "No I didn't just roll out of bed. Or if I did, I at least took the time to put this band on top of my head." And I like that message.

So that's the new look I'm going for these days. I'm not sure if it's working stylistically, you know as far as whether or not I am a complete laughing stock. But I like what it's doing for me in a practical way. I'm eeking out a little more wear from tee shirts that truly should have been thrown in the trash can long ago. And hey, I'm letting the world know that it's not just that I don't care about my hair; it's just that the pony tail is really the best option for this mop, but hey, if it makes you feel any better, I have this head band on too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Getting Started

Speaking of getting the Borders lady fired, I haven't let y'all in on my recent children's book finds in a while. She would not be familiar with any of the following as I ordered them all off Amazon after Borders came up with a big zero.

First, is a delightful little alphabet book for my son who is finally learning his ABC's! A Was Once and Apple Pie by Edward Lear is so cute! Lots of rhyming and silly word play, "A was once an apple pie, Pidy, tidy, widy, pidy, nice insidy, apple pie! B was once a little bear, Beary, wary, hairy, beary, taky cary, little bear!" And on it goes. Adorable!

Second is a pair of books. I found the first one around this time last year and sent it to a special baby friend who was having her first birthday. This little girl loved playing mommy to her baby dolls and I thought this book was perfect for a budding young (someday) momma to be. It is Goodnight Baby, pictured above, a little book with baby farm animals that little ones can tuck in with their corresponding mommy farm animals. The babies are attached to the spine of the book by ribbons and have a pocket in the front to put them all in between naps. Each mommy has a little pouch in her bed where the baby can snuggle down in when it's time to sleep. It is such a sweet little book. And for boys there is On the Go. I have purchased it for two young lads who I am very late at sending gifts for being born! Both boys are swiftly approaching their own first birthdays so I had to think of something a little different than the usual newborn gifts. These caught my eye on Amazon when I was ordering a few extra of Goodnight Baby. This one has vehicles of all kinds attached to ribbons and a page for each one with a spot to drive or park. The company that makes these books, IBaby, has lots of other interactive type board books also available on Amazon. They are listed on the pages I have linked under the book titles I already mentioned.

The next couple of recommendations are for Bible things. I feel I need a whole post to converse about my convictions about icons and images of Jesus, ideas that never crossed my mind as even remotely problematic until they were explained to me in no uncertain terms as being out and out wrong. I actually raised my hand and said "So what you're saying is that even like little felt board Sunday school Jesus is bad?" And I was taught that it absolutely was. Now, while I maintained (not to that guy, he was not up for much discussion) that abstract or nondescript human images like felt Sunday school Jesus or carved wooden baby Jesus are not a problem because he was in fact God in the flesh, I have since then been a little cautious about Bible story books with real detailed, photographic looking images of Jesus because of what I was taught. I may have mentioned a great little Bible story book series before by Ella K. Lindvall. These are simply told Bible stories for very young children and there are no pictures of Jesus, which I always appreciated. I have to say that I still love these book but I have lightened up a lot on other books that have images of Jesus. The very dogmatic teaching I encountered in the past has rarely been supported, at least not so strictly, since so I have eased up. I still am not crazy about Jesus being acted out, but that is because it is often done so badly, often giving us a worse understanding of Christ than we had before (and thinking thusly made it easy to concede the rest of the points made by "Elder NoIcon"). Anyway, dah dah dah dah, announcing a new Bible story book, or at least new to me, The Jesus Storybook Bible:Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I can't say I have read the entire thing. I have read a lot and like what I have read a lot. It is done by a lady who attends Tim Keller's church in New York City. I just glanced through the reviews on Amazon and found a glowing one by none other than Meghan Dunham, fellow seminary mom, blogger, and all around nice lady. So there you go. Good book. Have a looksee. Oh, and one guy went crazy with a (literally) 28 point bad review on it about how liberal it is and how sin and judgment are minimized etc., that it makes the Gospel sound just too appealing *gasp*! I would love to hear what any of you think about that particular review. My first reaction is to wonder whether or not that dude has any kids. Also, I wonder if he is a big John Piper fan. Oh yes, I went there!

My other Bible story book recommendation is recycled. As in I think I have mentioned it. And I know Jessie has mentioned it. It is The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm. Amabel has read this one cover to cover on her own at least eight times. She loves it. It is basically a covenantal telling of the Bible that follows God's Kingdom building from Genesis through Revelation, but in a big picture way minus a lot of details so kids can follow. I am so pleased with what Amabel has drawn from it. It is such a great foundation for how to understand the Bible, as one big continuing story and not a collection of somewhat unrelated stories (the way I always understood it as a kid).

So go read to your kids because heaven knows if you read this whole post and that one guy's review, you won't have much time to read anything more for yourself! But don't worry, I'll get to grown up reading one of these days!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Captain O.G. Readmore was a cat...

Not a mom. I have been looking at other people's blogs and I have decided something. I am a really boring person. Pretty Boring for a Girl! I want to be interesting, but I am just not. Maybe in another season of life? Maybe when I am not spending all my time running errands, taking care of toddlers, and mopping and ironing and all the other constant chores associated with a family of five. But why not now? I keep thinking I have a short attention span. But I don't. I just have short little snippets of time that I can actually do anything with. And nothing ever gets my undivided attention. Because even if the kids are in bed, I am probably scurrying around trying to clean up the kitchen, make lunches for school tomorrow, and sort/run/fold one last load of laundry. Or maybe get in an extra set of crunches or push ups. Yes, I know, you are all laughing at the mental image of Abby doing pushups. Well, just so you know, despite my chubby exterior, I have a very muscular interior, so there. I have not always been chubby and I will not always be chubby. Same as the boring thing. One day, I will again be a fairly interesting fairly normal sized person. But for now, I really should read more or listen to music or something. I think that is my (appropriately) late New Year's resolution. Let's see, what was it last year? I have no record. I do remember that Annie had some and I must have sort of loosely held to hers because they have stuck with me. Uh oh, time to embarrass you, Annie. Except you probably aren't embarrassed, but did you keep them?

1. Read more. Keep a list of what I read/want to read.
2. Walk more. This will involve getting a replacement for my hobo stroller.
3. Learn something new (hopefully this will be Latin over the summer with #2).
4. Sell stuff that I don't want/need anymore.
5. Keep sewing clothing for myself. Goal: skirts and dresses for summer.
6. Bake more bread.
7. Figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
8. (Added after he jumped up on me while I was typing this...)Yell at the dog less.

I modified these to sewing for my children more, baking bread in the the first place, and yelling at the people in my home less as I have no dog, and well, I do yell quite a lot. I can say that I did honestly read more, but that is not saying much as I am horrible at staying with anything after the first chapter. I certainly walked more. I didn't really remember the whole learning something new thing. That just shows how not learning minded I am. I get the Veritas Press homeschooling newsletter and the January one was supposed to be all inspiring for the new year. The author kept saying how "learning should be the aroma of your home." Please! The aroma of my home is day old coffee and baby wipes! Anyway, I can't say that I learned anything new, but maybe I can learn two new things in 2008. Probably not though. Sewing? Yeah, not so much. I can't tell you the number of dresses I have cut and pleated. But I can tell you the number of new homemade dresses my girls wore in 2007. None. I did do a really beautiful one for a friend though. And Rebekah (Wright), I have fabric ready for your two girls. Of course, they will have outgrown them by the time I finish! And I used to just crank them out! Those weren't size seven though (not that your girls are size seven, Rebekah, but Amabel is)! But I did learn to bake bread! And I have no idea what to do when I grow up. George keeps trying to help me with that one as he is convinced I would be happier with something else to do. I mean, he is convinced because I am convinced. He is currently stuck on me writing children's books. I am currently stuck on doing something that would put me in daily contact with people. Writing is not generally one of those things. So maybe selling children's books? If I had anything to say about it, the manager of the children's section at the borders in Brentwood would be fired as she has absolutely no knowledge of children's literature whatsoever and is not really very friendly either. And then I could have her job. But I would rather live the life of Kathleen Kelly with my very own quaint and cottage-y bookstore in my own little happy section of New York City (with my own charming and cottage-y brownstone no less!). And should I really desire the demise of another woman just so I can have her job? I truly do. And I don't even care if I can have her job or not. I just want someone who has ever even read a children's book working in the children's section. That's all I ask. And as for yelling less. I'm still praying about that :)

So I guess if I can work those out more, I might actually become a more interesting person. But maybe to streamline things a bit, I really should just read more. Starting now. I have hot coffee, I have the new issue of Cottage Living. Crap. It's 4:50. I have to make dinner. This is what I'm saying. Incidentally, does anyone else remember Captain O.G. Readmore from Saturday morning cartoons? He was just one of those public service commercials like "the more you know" ones now. Well anyway, I'm going to make him proud!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sundry Things

First of all, I meant to ask, did anyone make black eyed pea dip for New Year's? Billy Lee made the best black eyed pea dip in the world at the Terra Cotta cafe in Auburn. I mean, I never would've thought black eyed pea dip would be something I would just devour, but his is so good. I have this huge cookbook compiled by the faculty and students from all three RTS campuses that I got during RUF intern training at RTS Jackson. The cookbook has pretty much any recipe you can think of, so anytime I get a wild hair to make something new or wonder what in the world I can do with this or that ingredient on hand, I go to my RTS cookbook. Well, the recipe for black eyed pea dip in there is sort of nondescript. I figure it is a good base, but it needs more. So I did a little looking around on the internet, which is so overwhelming to me when it comes to looking for recipes, and came up with a few ideas. My dip was pretty good, but nothing like Billy Lee's. I am ready to scrap the whole thing if I can find a new recipe to try. Anyone have one?

Secondly, we went to get the car from the Best Buy parking lot yesterday. And you can still get off on Eager from 170. I just didn't realize it as you have to go around the concrete wall that separates you from oncoming traffic to the side with the oncoming traffic! This is perhaps, exponentially more scary than the flyover ramps for someone who nearly died in a head on collision! It is a strange design. But it was always strange to have an interstate dead end in a Target parking lot anyway.

Anyway, I finally went to Target and ended up spending thirty minutes organizing the 75% off Christmas cards. I know, what a weird thing to do. It was so therapeutic though! I started out just by looking to see what they had. And then everything was all jumbled in my way and August noticed that some of them matched. So we started putting the matching ones in piles, and it evolved from there to the point where I had some nice little displays. I have worked twice in retail situations where the store was changing locations and having a big moving sale. Things get so messy and picked over in those situations that it would drive me crazy. So I would just go over to the clearance and try to jazz it up- create outfits out of mismatched clearance separates and jazz them up with a little jewelry, or move things around so all the like colors are together even if they aren't the same style, etc. I mean, it is probably a total waste of time, especially when you are a shopper and not an employee, but I so love to get rid of a mess. Unless it's my kids' mess. Then I'm just grumpy because I know I will have three more to clean up the next time I turn around. So how nice to walk up to one big mess, and leave with nice neat shelves full of Merry Christmas 2007 cards that will never sell but at least are all together with their friends.

And lastly, there are so so many sales on winter clothes right now. I think I have mentioned the Crazy8 website before. They are Gymboree's lower priced line and they are still offering introductory free shipping. Lots of cute stuff, y'all! Well, mostly, what I am excited about is these plain turtleneck dresses for under $10. They have brown, pink, and red. And they would be so cute with a monogram! I know, George already said it, I am a monogram nut. I have recently ordered pants for Amabel off Kelly's Kids for $7 a pair too, but now I am seeing that their sales are not on their website anymore. Oh well. Not sure where else to direct you for a good deal. I saw that there was a lot on sale at Kohl's when I went for Christmas returns last week. Unfortunately this does not include waffle irons. And if you are like me there is not a Kohl's near enough to you to make it worth your time to go by unless you have to go to do returns (why does no one stick to the list? I really need a waffle iron and I really do not need PJs for my kids that don't fit and toys they already have. And how hard is it to get a gift receipt?! It's like getting the gift of errands for Christmas!). Nonetheless, they had a lot on clearance. Oh, and so does Old Navy. Happy shopping? I can't decide if it is better to buy now and "save 60%" or wait until next year when, presumably, money won't be so tight. Then again, I presume that every year and I am always wrong! It's a gamble either way! Good luck!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I mean, honestly!

So today Amabel's school's copier broke. And it was imperative that we get the pizza order sheets out today because information only goes home once a week (does anyone else find this strange? when I was in 1st and 2nd grade we took home something every night). We are starting a new thing with pizza orders because thus far ordering pizza has been a complete fiasco. A fiasco that I did not design, but have been thrown into being responsible for. Because two major things are changing, the girl who has been in charge up until now is moving so I have to assume her responsibilities and lunch has turned into two periods instead of one, I finally decided to speak up and say "hey, this system does not work." So we are trying something new. Something everyone is skeptical about. Something I have now invested at least two full school days in in hopes of saving time in the future. What is my brilliant idea? Send the forms home to the parents with an envelope for money. I know, it's like I'm a genius! Just kidding, I am pretty sure the potential problems have been what has kept this from being tried in the past, not that no one thought of it before. But they will literally just have to write their child's name, check the box for cheese or pepperoni, and put the money in the envelope. But general opinion is that it is doomed to fail. Any ideas? I have no idea why this is so hard! But it turns into people wanting to write checks for the next eight weeks, split three ways between their three children who all order different amounts and flavors. I have no problem with this as long as I get an explanatory note from the parents. I do have a problem with this when a (sweet little) eight year old hands me a check and tries to explain it to me. Because, well, it's an eight year old. And if you know many eight year olds you know there are many ums and spacing out and looking around and losing track of what we are talking about. And with ten other eight year olds saying "Ma'am! Ma'am! Pizza money! Pizza money!" it is enough to make you crazy.

So I went to Kinkos with my super cute, sweet, and sick baby to put my brilliant plan into effect because the school's copier was broken. But Kinkos said they couldn't print on envelopes. I was kind of surprised by that! They said there was one place across town that does it but they can't do it same day. So strange! So I printed out little slips to staple to the school's envelopes which I hope worked out but I have no idea. And why don't I have any idea?

Well, we're driving along, driving along down I170 to Target to pick up a few things before heading back to Amabel's school. And the bridge is finished! The big scary bridge (aka "flyover ramp") that I have been watching be built for the past six months is finished. And not only that, but you can no longer go straight into Target off I170 anymore, you have to go over the big scary bridge to the Hanley exit and then take the hairpin turn onto Eager to get back over to Target. And all the signs leading up to the big scary bridge say "Eager road, left lane." But the Hanley exit is four lanes over on the right. So I am still reeling over my death defying maiden voyage over the big scary bridge and suddenly I have to get four lanes over and *KABLOOEY* either I hit a pothole on a brand new piece of highway that I never saw or my tires hate me, but my tire exploded as I was getting onto the exit ramp. I managed to flap on through the hairpin turn and into the Best Buy parking lot where three friendly business men pointed and laughed (literally) as I waited for them to cross in front of me so I could get out of the road (nice of them to wait eh?), about 200 yards (of busy road with no sidewalk in 15 degree weather) from Target (so close! yet, so far away!).

Fortunately, I had my cell phone and George was to the rescue. But after having to get August (who was home sick from school) up from a nap early who was then startled into an accident, cleaning him up and changing his clothes (with no water incidentally, because did I mention the water main in our neighborhood broke again today? again, as in this happened the week before last too), getting over to Best Buy, jacking up the car, being unable to get our spare tire out because our manual was stolen out of our car (we have habitual neighborhood thieves who steal stupid things like ice packs, car manuals, and baby bottles and well, portable DVD players too), trying his spare and realizing it wouldn't fit, loading up the carseats and the exploded tire/wheel into his car, and getting us all to Amabel's school to drop off the order forms, poor George still had to go out with the exploded wheel to get a new tire. He is back now though, and the wheel is back on the car. Now all we have to do is go back and get the van. But we can't now because I64 is closed for a year starting yesterday and traffic will be miserable.

So let's review. Things broken today:
my two youngest children's immune systems
school copier
water main
right front tire
Abby's spirit

Just kidding. About Abby's spirit. I think it was just enough chaos to make me officially lower my expectations for the day. So often things go wrong and you feel like you have to function normally in spite of them. But right now I'm thinkin', "Hey! It's ten of five and I have pizza dough rising in the oven, an couple of loads of clean laundry (so what that they still need to be folded?), clean floors, clean dishes, clean counters, and even (well, at least one) clean children. And that ain't bad.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

I never know the appropriate way to segue from sad news to glad tidings. I know I must post about the yuck of life pretty often because I actually think about that switching of gears a lot. Part of my quest for beauty out of ugliness I suppose. Anyway, I also like to be positive and encouraging whenever possible. And it is a new year. It is funny trying to explain to a six year old, after a season of three religious holidays, what the big deal is about New Year's. I don't really guess I know. Something about a fresh start maybe? But that's kind of not exciting. Do we really ever do anything differently after the New Year? Other than write several checks where we have to cross out the date and initial over the new year until we catch on.

We were unable to go out last night as we were invited to a party for families and our children were sick. We didn't want to be responsible for getting other children sick and causing other mothers to miss church and play nurse. We watched the ball drop and commented (as usual) on how dumb the whole thing is, and yet we nearly always watch. There is a comedian, I can't remember who, who talks about how any other time watching the clock is a sign of absolute boredom, yet New Year's Eve is a "holiday" designated for watching the clock. No wonder it is usually such a boring event.

But we did have friends over for New Year's brunch today. We had to think in terms of people without kids (not as likely to get sick) and were immediately excited about having an opportunity to have our friends the Browns over. We were so glad they were in town and were able to come. Everything went so well that I think having guests for New Year's brunch will have to become a family tradition. Well, our previous tradition has been to travel to Alabama to see our friends the Fittses or to have them here. So I suppose brunch is not really a new thing at all. But you don't think of it as a special brunch when it is all around a special few days.

We were so sad not to be able to go to Birmingham this year. It was one of those grown up decisions. I do not like making grown up decisions! But in the end, we had a great time anyway, saved a lot of time, energy, and money on what is, to be honest, a real pain in the butt trip (though very much worth it anyway!), and are actually resting rather than running ourselves ragged. I know, leave it to me to put that sort of spin on seeing our best friends. It isn't bad at all while we're there. It's so much fun and so good to be with friends that it makes up for everything. But nonetheless, there is much that goes into mobilizing a family of five for a week away from home. You know, all the baby gear, having clean clothes to pack, having stuff to occupy young kids for 20 hours worth of driving as well as for staying in places that are not really set up for kids. Then there's the driving when you would be sleeping, the staying up and visiting when you would be sleeping, the taking care of children who don't adjust well to unfamiliar environments when you would be sleeping. But it's great. I mean, it is. We so wish we were doing it all right now! Our friends roll out the red carpet for us. I know they are aware of the effort we make to get there, so once we arrive, there is one delicious meal after another with plenty of yummy snacks and tasty beverages in between. They invite all our friends from the old gang for at least one event. Everyone brings their own specialty dishes, games or gadgets they got for Christmas (which usually includes lots of smokes for the menfolk), and all their own kids (which is more and more every year- when we left, there were just our kids!) and we just play.

I hope no matter where I am I will always have friends who play. You know I can be a little too all play and no work, but there are some folks who never let themselves play. How do they stand it? I hope you are all playing today! The "grind" starts back up tomorrow! If you have a little extra time though, try some of my recipes from my yummy New Year's menu! I am too lazy to type them all out, but fortunately, other people on the internet already did! Yea!

Sausage, egg, and cheddar breakfast casserole (you know the one. there are a hundred variations of this, and I can't find my exact one after looking. so if you are dying for my recipe, let me know and I'll post it later)
Blueberry Scones (Cook's Illustrated)
Cinnamon Rolls
Banana nut bread (our guests were generous enough to bring this so I cannot post the recipe today. I will see if I can't get the recipe from her soon though)
Citrus fruit salad ( here, all I did was get the sections from oranges and pink grapefruits, with no seeds or membranes, and threw in some raspberries. you may think you don't like grapefruit, but you probably do like pink grapefruit. it's just the membranes that are so bitter. trust me.)
Whipped hot chocolate (Ina Garten)
Homemade marshmallows (Ina Garten)
Champagne/Sparkling grape juice
Orange juice

Oh, and I meant to make grits but forgot. Maybe a good goal for me before next year's brunch would be to learn to make my own cinnamon rolls (but why bother when Sister Schubert's are so good?!) and learn a little something about wines and champagnes before heading the the grocery thirty minutes before closing on New Year's Eve! I know nothing so take this for what it's worth (not much), but I thought it was pretty good champagne (er, um, sparkling wine). Cheers!

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