Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Peekaboo Injury...

Okay, this is probably one that will only interest our family members who are scattered across the map. And maybe those of you who are curious about how Peekaboo can be turned into a full contact sport.

Boomer really does seem to fit as a nickname:

Friday, November 29, 2013

My Totally Controversial Thoughts About Thanksgiving and Shopping

I have an admission to make and I've been a little hesitant to write about it even though I've been writing it out in my head for almost a month.  The thing is that I know that it's probably one of the least popular things I could possibly say at the moment based on what I've been seeing in social media since November trailed after October and we turned out attention from Halloween to Thanksgiving.

But it offers a fresh perspective from what I've seen out there so here we go.

I have seriously mixed feelings about stores staying open on Thanksgiving.

Okay, I'll put myself out there even more and say that over the past eight years, more often than not I've been down right thrilled that there are stores that stay open on holidays year round.

Now before anyone starts typing in caps in my combox about consumerism and a loss of values and how holidays used to be about things like families and how now all people care about is shopping, hear me out.  I'm not looking at this from the angle of getting up early to head out and stand in line in the freezing cold outside of some store because I want that heavily discounted big screen tv.

Paul has worked through most of the holidays since we've been married.

There weren't really appropriate pictures for this post,
so it's sprinkled with pictures from the time periods
I'm talking about.
When we first got married he worked as a manager of a group home.  He'd work three twenty four hour shifts on and then three off and then two on and then two off about an hour and a half away from where we lived.  When he brought home the first schedule I was pretty devastated because he worked every single holiday.  But don't worry he said.  That means next year I won't have to work any holidays at all.

Except that didn't happen.  The next year the schedule got switched again and suddenly he was working every holiday for a second year at a job where he got $10 a night for still having to be on duty in a house full of juvenile's who'd been ordered by the courts into the program, even though he was still very definitely working.

By the time he left, I hated that job.  It was horrible and our car got vandalized over and over again.  To be honest, it was kind of scary.  And his boss couldn't have hated Catholics any more than he did if he'd dressed in a sheet and worn a pointy white hat (that a totally different story and maybe someday I'll convince Paul to tell it or let me tell it).

Then Paul began working retail while he was getting his masters in theology.

Can I tell you how much more I liked that job?  Sure he was still working graveyard shifts a lot of the time, but I wasn't nervous that some sixteen year old gang member was going to attack him.  We were poorer, much poorer, but I also felt safer.

Paul worked every holiday shift that he could.  He'd get a generous amount of extra pay for any holiday he worked, whether it was the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving.  So he'd volunteer, along with many other workers who could see the upside of a much fatter paycheck in a season where little extras just won't stop popping up.  He was a non-union almost full time employee (whose hours would get cut for a bit whenever he got too close to being full time and getting benefits since that was how it worked), but we were thankful for a paycheck.  2008 wasn't a good time to be looking for a job and we'd learned to be thankful for what we had.

When the electricity and gas bill are about to jump up an extra hundred dollars because of the cost of heating a home, that extra money is more than welcome.  And it was only an eight hour shift.  We could still find a time in the day to celebrate.  We worked around his schedule and made the holidays special while being thankful that there was extra money to help pay to keep the house a little bit warmer.

The idea of wanting to work on the holidays wasn't new to me.  When I'd worked in a supermarket shortly before Paul and I met there was serious competition to work on holidays because of the extra pay (I can't remember if it was time and a half or double time, but it was enough that people were ready to volunteer).  I never even got to work a holiday, despite volunteering because I hadn't worked there long enough to have the seniority to get picked to work before I moved on to another job.

On Tuesday Paul asked me if I wanted him to see if he could pick up extra hours this week. He said that a lot of kids were home for the holiday and that work would be packed.  And so he went in and asked if they needed him and they said of course and he stood out in the freezing cold dealing with the people who were often belligerent and drunk for $5 an hour.  He got home at 4 am and fell asleep on the couch so that his footsteps on the creaky stairs wouldn't wake Patrick and Mae, who are only two willing to get up and celebrate a new day at 4 am.

He went upstairs in the morning and then I woke him up again around lunch time to come down and spend the rest of the day with us so he'd be able to sleep that night, grateful for a husband who's willing to stand out in the cold all night long, even if it meant working the first four hours of a snow covered Thanksgiving.

Today I went to the fabric store.  One of the ways I've made my store work these past years is by stocking up on fabric during the ridiculous Black Friday sales.  Fabrics that are 75% off and 25% off your total order coupons?  I'm willing to stand in line to cut my bottom line by more than half.  I knew that I'd be coming home to sew and sew and pray that what I'm sewing sells.

The lady cutting my fabric was furious.  I asked her if it had been busy when they opened and she ranted about having to come in early and how angry she was to be there the day after Thanksgiving and how she couldn't imagine going into stores on that day to shop.  I nodded and tried to sympathize.

But it was hard.  Because I knew that I'd be coming home and putting on three layers tonight and that I'd still be shivering.  I knew that even with the ridiculous gas prices and three layers of clothes on and the thermostat turned up as high as I dare, our house would still be cold.  I knew I'd be sewing and getting up to get a blanket and put it across my lap, praying, praying, praying that someone would like something that I post enough to choose it over the cheaper made-in-China version.  I knew I'd be thinking about that week when I spent 100 hours standing in the kitchen sewing while watching the kids through the baby gate, only to go to a craft fair and not sell a single quilt. I knew I'd be hoping that this week wouldn't be like that week (I always stress about sales during this particular weekend even though I know most people wait until Cyber Monday to do their online shopping).

And after the struggle of the last five years, after the year Sadie was born when we waited to hear back on so many applications I sometimes just wish that people would remember that for many people bringing home a paycheck, even an utterly unspectacular paycheck, is still pretty special.

I don't shop on Thanksgiving.  But I don't find myself angry that other people do and I don't feel that I'm somehow better than them because I spend my Thursday in the kitchen cooking.  Different families bond in different ways and I imagine that some groups that might have felt the strain of spending a day together watching football might enjoy being out and about together searching for deals a bit more than feeling claustrophobic in some living room somewhere.

Perhaps in some ways that's what bothers me the most.  There's a morally superior tone that seems to ring through many of the articles that I've read that makes me feel like we sometimes feel better about ourselves when we talk about those materialistic people who go shopping on these big shopping days.

But I'm pretty sure that I can find my own opportunities to be a big fat sinner while losing my temper snapping at Paul as we scramble to get everything on the table before a certain three year old captures the pumpkin pie.  I'm just not convinced that staying in and celebrating the way that I'm more inclined to celebrate is something I should be patting myself on the back over.

I feel bad for people who are forced to work on holidays and be away from their families, but I also have a special place in my heart for those families who, like us, are thankful when there are extra hours to be had.

Now I'm going to go upstairs and do the second half of my work on Black Friday.  And who knows, maybe the heat that went into writing this post will help keep me a little bit warmer for an hour or two!

7 Quick Takes Friday: Thanksgiving Edition

My shops both have coupons up and running.  To save 15% at my snood shop use the code: THANKYOU15 for 15% off.

And you can use the very same code on any of the items in Mae Bae's for 15% off there!

I had to share my quickly snapped pictures of last nights dinner.  The turkey was done really very early (we ate at four something) but the moment the food was on the table the babies were ready to riot because it wasn't yet in their mouths:

I'm not sure if I can ever have enough pictures of the turkey.  This is my eighth Thanksgiving making a turkey and when it's done I still walk around with a huge grin thinking: "I cooked a turkey!  And it turned out!"

So here's another picture of the turkey (and Sadie waiting very patiently):

Someone else was less patient during the minute it took to snap pictures while Paul grabbed plate (because in this house if the plates were on the table first it would likely be a plate smashing disaster).

She certainly was cute though.  And she ate two slices of pumpkin pie.  And a berry cobbler.  And then half of my cobbler.  And key lime pie.  The desserts were definitely a hit with Mae.

I'm certain I took so many pictures of the food because I was really still rather shocked that our gluten free, dairy free Thanksgiving dinner was really going to turn out.  I kept waiting for a disaster.

I even threw in a salad because I was so sure there wouldn't be enough food (complete with home made dairy free ranch).

I needn't have worried because there was definitely more than enough!

When asked what she was thankful for Sadie said "this feast we're eating" (she's the one who started calling it a "feast").  And then she added "For my sister.  I'm thankful for my sister."

Patch spent a large portion of the day being thankful for Maggie's guitar.  

Thanksgiving is exhausted.

I almost got up this morning to go to Joann's.  There fantastic flannel sale was luring me in.

But then I thought, would I rather walk to the car in the freezing freezing cold or stay in this nice warm bed (with the warm flannel sheets I changed onto it yesterday evening and the super thick comforter that I found in a box last night) and I just couldn't convince myself to get up.  

Apparently there's just nothing in a store that I want more than sleep in a nice warm bed.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Most Thankful Moment

I'm pausing from my quest to make a perfect (if slightly weird) Thanksgiving dinner to tell you what I'm thankful for this morning.

Right now my heart is full to bursting because of what happened when I paused from doing dishes to check on Maggie.  She was sitting on a rocking horse looking at the back of The Pokey Little Puppy.  This conversation followed:

Me:  "Mae, can you say Puppy?  Puppy.  Woof, woof?"
Maggie: (looking up and me and then back down at the circle of pictures on the back of the book and saying in a perfectly clear little voice):  "Elephant, boat, lion, train, bunny, bunny, balloon."
Me:  (coming out of the kitchen) "Maggie, that was so good!  Good talking!  I'm so, so proud of you!  Did you just say "elephant, lion, train, bunny, bunny, bunny?"
Maggie: (grabbing my hand and making me point at the elephant, boat, lion, train and then at the bunny twice and the blue balloon above the bunny once."
Me:  "Did you say 'elephant, lion, train, bunny, bunny, bunny?"
Maggie: (takes my hand and points at the boat)
Me:  "Oh, so you said, 'elephant, boat, lion, train, bunny, bunny, bunny?'"
Maggie:  (ever patient she took my hand and pointed at the each on putting extra stress on the balloon two more times)
Me:  "Ok.  So you said 'elephant, boat, lion, train, bunny, bunny, balloon?"

At which she happily released my hand and returned to looking at her story book.

That conversation, half in words and half in gestures would have been virtually unthinkable two months ago (and which one of us had the poorer memory because I really was trying to remember what she said.  Thankfully she remembered and definitely was willing to remind me).

This morning it feels like a triumph as she begins to be able to use words and gestures to communicate more and more every day.

I am so, so very thankful.

I hope you have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving today!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rambling about Thanksgiving Planning, School Work and Thrift Store Shopping

This is what happens when
Sadie tries to take my picture
when the babies are awake...
You guys just narrowly missed a post about how I fell part way down the stairs yesterday and am pretty battered today.  After glancing back over it I had to conclude that I've been quite the little ray of sunshine lately and that it served absolutely no point outside of whining and needed to be deleted.  After all, I got everything I needed to get done today, and I'm not sure how many times I can treat you to stories of my spectacular clumsiness.

Sadie and I took advantage of Patrick napping and Maggie having therapy to get to work on the stuffing this morning.  We chopped and seasoned and got it in the oven before Sadie abandoned me, muttering something about "school work" that needed to be done (which she then went out to do, by herself, while I continued cooking) while pausing to ask "how's everything going with Maggie?" to Maggie's Wednesday Therapist.

Math and religion continue to top the chart as her favorite subjects, with fractions of all things (yeah, I have no idea) being her favorite math activity.  I loved math as a kid too (somewhere I have my high school's shiny math award) but fractions? I definitely wouldn't have been searching out fractions worksheets to do on my own.

I searched through some green bean casserole recipes today, chuckling when I saw the words "from scratch" used in recipes where the ingredients included the words "canned AND fried."  Canned I could possibly see, but fried too?  If something is already fried I think we can cross "from scratch" off the page description.  At least that's how I look at it in this world where I have to monitor pretty much every ingredient that goes into Mae's mouth.

I came up with a version of green bean casserole that may or may not be good (I prepared the green beans and made a sauce for them out of chicken stock, mushrooms, an onion and a few cloves of garlic that were cooked and pureed into a thick mixture.  Tomorrow I'll be attempting "french fried onions" with onions, a little bacon grease and almond meal that will hopefully be tasty on top of my green bean creation).  Not using dairy (or soy) seriously puts a crimp in making any sort of green bean casserole, and shunning all things flour (including arrowroot and tapioca and rice and potato) added a little extra challenge so it ought to be interesting to see how it cooks up.

The pie crust for the pumpkin pie is done, the key lime pie is in the freezer and I'm making a berry crumble that is possibly my favorite crazy-diet friendly recipe, since everyone loves it.  I know that it's a ridiculous amount of deserts for five people, but deserts, for me at least, are the easiest thing to make with all the restrictions (possibly because I've put the most effort into learning how to make them...) and I console myself by thinking that these deserts are super duper healthy too.

Sadie also snapped this picture
of one of the other dresses I'd
gotten thrifted through
Thred Up a while back.
I think I look like
I'm about to fall over from
exhaustion, but I do like the
dress (which is also super soft!).
Also finished and in the fridge are two different cranberry sauces (one with oranges and one without), which will bring the main part of the meal to turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole.  I'm trying not to miss potatoes (I've made the cauliflower ones in the past and they were good and may or may not be on the list if I can find a head of cauliflower in the refrigerator tomorrow).  My special mashed potatoes were formerly one of my favorite dishes (loaded with butter, sour cream and creme cheese of course, back in the days of dairy that I vaguely remember) and I'm kind of mourning not making them.

Maggie is going through a phase where she wants to eat pumpkin porridge at every meal (it's made with pumpkin, almond milk, dried unsweetened coconut, a dash of honey and peanut butter) so that's likely what she'll be having although I might be able to convince her to try a bit of berry cobbler.

Patrick will pretty much eat everything these days, voraciously.

Sadie will undoubtably be devouring a drumstick since that's her favorite part of every bird that I roast.

Speaking of birds for roasting, I went a little crazy this month and my freezer is now full of $9 turkeys.  Every time I went shopping I picked up a turkey for the freezer since spending $20 meant $10 off a turkey.  And since I usually roast a chicken once a week I just couldn't pass up a giant $9 turkey.

In other totally random news another Thred Up Box arrived (if you're tired of reading of my online thrifting adventures stop reading now!).  Since I haven't found any thrift stores I really love here and  I don't get out of the house to shop very often, I am rather fond of the idea of this particular store... and I'm very fond with how well the orders I've placed with them have turned out and the prices, shipped, beat the prices of the local places I've gone to.  The only thing that makes me sad is that they don't have a men's section!

Yes, I really am smitten.  Sadie growing out of her clothing so fast I can hardly keep her in pants.  And pants are a must right now, even when she insists on wearing a dress, since the weather seems intent on staying in the "feels like" single digits range as often as not.  Suddenly, hardly anything fits her lanky form.  So when the box arrived today it contained two pairs of jeans (one which was hot pink) and two dresses for Sadie.  Sadie immediately put on the two dresses that arrived for her and asked to be photographed:

One is a black velvet Winnie the Pooh dress and the
other is a blue Princess Aurora dress.
Maggie walked around savoring the softness of her princess zip up hoodie (she loves zip up sweaters almost as much as she loves boots):
I had a hard time getting her to look up because she
couldn't take her eyes off the softness of the fuzzy sweater.
And Sadie insisted on taking pictures of me since taking pictures is one of her favorite things:

$8 for a Banana Republic dress with fabric like butter (it was just so soft) makes me very, very happy because I'm 100% sure I could never have justified buying this dress when it was brand new.  And it's perfect for tomorrow!

Now to do a little sewing before I fall into bed to get some sleep before Thanksgiving arrives.  Paul volunteered to work extra hours this week, so I think it will be a pretty quiet day tomorrow for us.  Here's hoping this strange feast I'm imagining turns out!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Random Thoughts and a Jesse Tree Update

I'm in the middle of an email battle with a company that is about to get their very own, very special review here on this blog (although with a sinking feeling I believe I've been scammed... while I saw them recommended by plenty of friends on facebook, they're apparently not recommended by the Better Business Bureau and there are quite a few sites dedicated to exposing their scaminess...).  I did let them know I'd be writing about our exchange if they continued to insist on keeping my return and my money (which I felt like a jerk typing, but honestly, after the number of times they've gone back on their word I'm really feeling out of options)... because deep down I'm still hoping this is some horrible mistake and I've been trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I have a feeling that they don't really mind bad reviews... mine will just be another drop in the bucket.

On a happier note, the Jesse "Tree" is coming along nicely.  I finished six squares last night and if I can manage that again today I'll be done (with the square part at least!).  Here's the latest:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Patrick has a lot to say...

Patrick has had a lot to say lately, and I brought out the camera last night in an attempt to catch a little bit of it to show him when he's bigger.  Of course once the camera was out there was only one word that he wanted to say... and it wasn't "Mama" (although if you listen carefully you might be able to hear a couple of his "thank-ys":

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week Ending: The Cold is Here Edition

This wasn't supposed to go live until tomorrow, but I accidentally posted it before it was finished so I think I'll finish it up now and post it again!  I was camera happy this weekend (and so was Sadie).  For the most part we stayed inside because it was just so cold!  And we bundled because even inside it's pretty cold (I believe my thermostat is a liar because there's no way it's anywhere near as warm as it says it is).  Here's the latest:

Here's Patch reaching for Mae's favorite dress.
It may have usurped her boots as her favorite thing of the moment.
Patrick is walking pretty regularly now,
although he still drops down on the floor
and crawls when he wants to get somewhere fast.
She named her Penguin "Wollner"
and walks around the house with it saying things like:
"I'm so lucky to have a pet!"
I think she may be fishing for something...
Here's Maggie reading about homeschooling in the outfit that she
was hoping to wear to Mass.
Sadie and I have similar ideas of what "warm" means.
Mae must take after Daddy.
I still just can't believe how big he is getting.
I keep waiting for his other bottom teeth to arrive (he has four on top).
He figured out how to drink out of a sippie cup today and promptly
drank three cups of almond milk.
Ready to shop.
They danced.  A lot.
They both had a blast!
Is Sadie suddenly looking really tall to anyone else?
Our little ham.

For more Week Ending head over to Re-Inventing Mother!

Patrick Humor

A while back one of my favorite bloggers posted on her facebook page about how every time her baby son would kiss her she would say "excuse me Sir!" and he would laugh hysterically (and I would totally link to give her credit for this hilarious-ness but decided that it's a fine line talking about something on a personal page and so I'll just stick with the story).

I tried out the phrase with Patrick and he agreed that it was hilarious.

Today he was being silly across the room and he did something and I said those three words and he froze and turned around and gave me this look:

Because apparently he thought it meant that I wanted a kiss.

And so I leaned over and:

And then I was reminded what baby kisses are actually like and how close a kiss can be to a bite with a twelve month old:

He makes me laugh so much.

What I Wore Sunday: My Husband the Hero Edition

Paul is amazing.

I got home from confession yesterday and slipped into the kitchen where I sat down on the floor in the kitchen, hidden from sight, sobbing.  I just couldn't figure out how I was going to get to Mass anytime in the near future and after talking with the priest I was feeling more hopeless than ever.  He had said that of course it was a valid reason and to try to watch it on TV (no TV...) or listen on the radio (no radio...) and settled with the Mass I could get through EWTN (at least we have that!) with our internet connection.  It was the answer that I knew he was going to give me, the answer I'd expected to hear and yet I was still depressed that there wasn't some magical answer that would alleviate the restlessness I feel when I think of not going to Mass indefinitely.  

Paul came over and asked what was wrong and I told him and he was quiet and then said:  "I have an idea.  I know what we'll do."  And when I asked him, sniffling, what his idea was he said "I'll go with you to the 9 am Mass tomorrow" and just like that the problem was solved.  

If you read the other post when I talked about Paul and his schedule, you know what a sacrifice this is.  What he suggested was something that I couldn't imagine asking of him. It's definitely not a matter of "sleeping in." It basically means that after working all day on a project that was due yesterday, he stood out in the cold last night while the temperature dropped quite a ways below freezing and checked IDs, and then he came home and after being awake for more than 24 hours, with only a couple hours sleep the night (now two nights before) he went with us to Mass.  

 He is an amazing husband.

Mass was... well... we survived (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Mass was beautiful but a certain three year old was exceptionally wild).  I had no illusions about what we were in for after a monumental tantrum had us ten minutes late walking out the door, and so we stayed in the narthex.  Paul took Patrick, so I only had to worry about Mae.  Sadie sat next to me and listened to her little listening device and didn't make a sound.

Mae shouted "Abajo!  Abajo!  Abajo!" not infrequently because apparently it's her favorite word of the moment and it fit with what she wanted, which was to be down (and more specifically to be able to run wild).

And Patrick fell asleep in the carrier with Paul, which was incredibly cute and also saved Paul from the possibility of me saying:  "Oh my goodness, this is insane!  Trade with me!!!" during any of the particularly rambunctious periods of time when I couldn't believe how much wildness could fit inside one tiny little person.

It was wonderful to be able to go and to handle the kids as a team though, even with the crazy wild moments.  I am so, so thankful that he came with us.

On a totally different note (since this is a What I Wore Sunday post!)... It is now officially cold here in Michigan.  The temperature today has lingered around "25 feels like 12" which means that everyone was pretty bundled.

To get Patrick ready I kept on his base pajama layer (his room gets chilly so he wears a cotton and fleece layer at night) and put on a turtle neck and a sweater and thick corduroy pants.

Mae wore her weighted vest in hopes that it might calm her down (apparently it couldn't overcome to excitement of being out of the house in the cold) and I wore my new Thred Up find with a sweater over the top and thick fleece and knit tights underneath.

Now Paul is finally getting a little sleep, Patrick is having a nap, Mae is reading a Dora book and Sadie is dancing around the living room.

Can you believe that it's already almost Thanksgiving and Advent?  I mean, logically I knew that they were approaching, but in truth it feels like school just started and October should be right around the corner!  Where did this last year go?!?!?!

For more WIWS head over to FLAP!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Therapy Room

A new baby gate arrived for us across town at Lowe's and we drove over yesterday to pick it up.  This morning, after a long night of standing out in the freezing cold Paul put the gate together while Mae and Boomer watched in horror.  They were not pleased with this latest gate development.  But I was convinced it would help keep a certain one year old from storming his big sister's therapy sessions and attempting to become the center of attention.  

Instead today he sat in his high chair in the living room today while I attempted to get him to drink out of a sippy cup (he was not having it) and yelled "Aggie! Aggie!  AGGIE!" about fifty times.

Now back to the room.

We found a big area rug when we were picking up the gate for $19.99 that I thought Mae might like (and that I hoped might make the downstairs feel a bit warmer because right now everything feels cold to me!) and I put it in the middle of the room that was formerly known as the dining room and which I now think of as the therapy room.  

All three kids piled onto the rug like it was the greatest thing ever and spent the rest of the afternoon playing together on it.  It was definitely a hit.  I'm kind of tempted to pick up another one for the living room because it makes the floors feel less cold!

And now presenting the play/therapy room.  I'm really pleased with how it's come along... and as I look at these pictures I realize how spoiled (in a good way!) our kids have been by our loved ones because I think every single toy I can see was either a birthday or Christmas gift over the last five years!

Another Jesse Tree Update:

Here's the latest Jesse Tree update.

And next time I decide to sew every leaf individually on a bush someone please tell me that it's a completely insane idea.

The latest squares are supposed to be the burning bush and Miriam with a tambourine:

Sadie's Saturday Morning Nun Talk

Earlier in the week Sadie and I were going through her Faith and Life book.  It had gone missing for a week and we were reviewing the questions from the chapters we'd already done.  About halfway through the questions I realized I'd missed a question and starting flipping back through the pages.  This conversation followed.

Me:  "Did we miss a question?  I think we did.  Which one was it?  I can't find it.  Was it 'What makes you a human person?'"
Sadie:  "No, we already did that one."
Me:  "You're right."  (more flipping pages)
Sadie:  "Did you mean to ask me 'What must you do to gain the happiness of heaven?'"
Me: (going back and seeing that I had in fact asked the questions above and below that question)  "Yes."
Sadie:  "To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love and serve God."

Yup.  She humors me by letting me pretend to be her teacher...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jesse Tree Update

I wanted to post a quick Jesse "Tree" (okay, I'll be honest, I go back and forth on what it's going to be ever ten minutes) update.  I made three more last night, which means they're taking less than an hour each now!  Here's the latest...

I have to admit that I'm frantically sewing because I have other vague "plans" for things I'd like to get done before Advent... we'll see how that goes!