Saturday, November 14, 2015

Josiah and Julia: 2nd Edition and Giveaway

I recently heard that a second printing of Josiah and Julia is in the works.  The next edition will include a slight change to the story, but it will remain a beloved and enjoyable story to help children learn proper church ettiquette.   I'm quite pleased that so many people have found the book beneficial and enjoyable that a second edition is needed and desired. 

So, to share my excitement and just in time for the Nativity Fast, I am doing a giveaway on Goodreads.  The winner will receive an autographed, 1st edition of Josiah and Julia.  The entry period will begin next Saturday, November 14 and go through St. Nicholas Day.  Use the link below to enter.  Contact me if you would like to purchase your own signed copy before the giveaway ends.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Josiah and Julia Go to Church by Kelly Ramke Lardin

Josiah and Julia Go to Church

by Kelly Ramke Lardin

Giveaway ends December 06, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Friday, November 6, 2015

Upholstered Bench

Not so long ago we bought a house, and I have been trying to furnish it without spending much extra money. Months ago, I got a cute, modern desk free from craigslist. The only problem is it didn't come with a chair, so we'd been using a dining room chair... until now.

Take one free piano bench from craigslist
Half a yard of fabric from Joann's for a whopping $3.50

And a can of blue spray paint leftover from an earlier project, and Voila!

Not counting the time it took for the paint to dry, the whole project took about 30 minutes, and I love how it turned out.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frontline: Generation Like

I seem always to be behind on media, social media, and whatever is hot in pop culture.  I'm sure that's true for most of us middle agers.  Wow!  Gen X is getting old...  So, a year after it aired, I watched this Frontline video about "Generation Like."

The video was thought provoking and left me feeling even more wary of kids' relationship with social media.  It clearly illustrated how kids are manipulated by marketers to market for them and feel like they are "empowered" at the same time.  What appears to kids/teens to be transparent, organic, grassroots movements online are actually finely orchestrated marketing campaigns, planned down to the second.  Kids become "famous" online and become the marketers.  And probably the craziest thing to me is that because the goal for them is to get sponsorships while being famous they have no idea what it means to "sell out!" They are not (jaded) idealists like their parents, they are the ultimate consumers and sell outs...

It's rather scary to think how shallow the whole social media world is (I say as I type a post to throw out into cyber space), and how it's influencing our kids.  Although I've let Hummingbird have her own website to do book reviews, I am more firm in my resolve that the kids will not have Facebook, Twitter, or other accounts for a long, long time.  And even though I lurk around Facebook and have a barely used Twitter account, I'm so proud of DH for still avoiding the bandwagon (although he has been known to peek at my Facebook news from time to time).

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On Walking Home From School...

As overdone as it may be, I have appreciated Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken since I first read it in school.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;          5
 Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,         10 
And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         15 
I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.        20 

 I discovered on walking home from school with Bumble Bee that the path less traveled by may seem like a good thing, but really it's not always so...  She spent about 10 minutes trudging through waste deep snow past one house.  I must have been feeling pretty indulgent because I let her do it!  Then, as we moved further along our journey and came to the pirate snowman I had passed earlier in the day, she knocked his nose off!  She stay to patch him up, though.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Getting To School

After 19+ inches of snow on Sunday and a day of clearing away yesterday, the kids returned to school today.  Our journey to school began with a 30 minute wait for the bus.  We spent half of it waiting inside, but when I called the bus company for an ETA we went out when the bus should have arrived. She had gotten stuck on a side street (some are still being cleared) and was running late.  However, the ETA was inaccurate, too.  The rest of the week, we'll fully wait inside and Hummingbird's bus driver will stop and wait for her and the other kids to come out of the house.

Since she was so late getting off, Bumble Bee was left inside to get herself ready.  She is no where near as busy as a real bee.  So, I returned about 5 minutes before we should have left to find her still undressed and needing to brush her teeth.  Luckily, I had packed both lunches last night.  I hurried her along and we headed out about 5 minutes later than I intended.

As we set out, I told her we would look for the clearest paths to take for speediness-sake.  With that we headed straight north because the hospital in that direction is always perfectly plowed.  A block later, we should have turned, but Bumble Bee wanted to walk past our favorite statue of Saint Aloysius.   Despite running late, I had to take a quick snap shot.  The girls like to visit the Saint in the summer when he's surrounded by flowers and the fountain at his foot is flowing.  I usually sit on a bench, while they dip their fingers in the fountain (a few kids even fell in when they were toddlers -- super funny!).  Today, snow covered everything.  Only the tops of the bench backs showed a wee bit.

After that brief stop, we hurried along our way sticking to the sidewalks that were best cleared, heading past the library, then... what's that?  Is that the TARDIS on someone's balcony?  Really, I've never seen this boxy blue structure before, and we pass this way on a regular basis.  Late or not, I had to stop for one more photo.

We continued down mostly clear sidewalks until Bumble Bee asked if we could take the street that's "not quite an alley." This street is still a brick street that sits aside what used to be raised train tracks but is currently being transformed into an urban trail for pedestrians and cyclists. "Oh, okay," I agreed.  We were practically to school so one mess block would be fine.  As we approached I spied a garbage truck that was blocking the street and making no signs of moving.  Stuck... in the way?  Nope, there's enough space for us to squeeze by.  So, we did.  The single sidewalk was pristine, white snow.  The street itself showed sings of foot traffic and automobiles.  A second garbage truck idling, stuck against the trail wall illustrated the utter futility of trying to pass this street by car! (After 2 hours the second truck had been freed, but not the first.)

Only about 5 minutes late, we walked into the warm school and parted ways.  I headed off to reward myself with coffee and a donut while I killed some time (I had to return to help with lunch, but it takes too long to walk to school, back, out, and back again).  Everything seemed pretty ordinary as I made my way to the donut shop, until I caught sight of a pirate snowman.  If he didn't look so threatening, I might have been tempted to steal his peanut butter cup hat!  It would have been so yummy frozen...

We try to vary our walk to school to make it more exciting.  Today was certainly the most entertaining walk this year.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Glad School Will Be Open Tomorrow

Two kids, 18 inches of snow, and a mother who is wishing there were a way to send them to school.  We cleaned their room this morning.  It's been needing it for weeks, and I started it Friday before we got distracted with other activities.  After cleaning, they were ready to romp in the snow.   Our back stairs were a hill of snow.  What's the best way to get down snow covered stairs?  Shovel and walk?  Stay up and don't bother?  No.  The best way is to SLIDE!  And that's just what they did.  Once they were dow, I grabbed the shovel and began to clear.  You can now step out our back door and get down the steps, but don't thing about using the rest of the deck.

After 30 short minutes, the kids had had enough of the snow.  They were ready to come in for hot chocolate and change into cozy pjs (at the late, late hour of 11:30 AM!).

"You two stop bickering!"

I did not yell it this time.  I'm usually the one, but this time it was Hummingbird chastising Bumble Bee and our neighbor.  The two of them were arguing over a snowball fight gone awry.  I held my tongue this time, but I thought, Like mother, like daughter.  She should remember how she felt just now when she next wants to argue with her sister.

As the sidewalks and streets are slowly being cleared, I think we are all ready for school to reopen tomorrow.  One snow day is plenty enough for us!

But if the snow sticks around, I'm already planning for some snowshoeing at Northerly Island this weekend!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Deja Vu

Four years ago today we were having fun watching snow fall and build until the kids were chest deep.   They are taller now, but we are again watching the snow fall and the wind blow.  As the afternoon wears on we'll be seeing more and more blizzard conditions.

The kids have more mixed feelings, and the weather has made for a somewhat crazy day.  I agreed to let Hummingbird sleepover at a friend's house last night before we knew this was coming.  At a quarter to ten, I considered going to pick her up.  I was lazy, though, and thought I would let her skip church and pick her up in the afternoon "after streets and san had a chance to clear the roads."  That didn't happen.  At 4AM our weather radio woke me up to tell me we were under blizzard warning through tonight, and that the weather would get worse as the day wore on.

By 7:10 buses were running 25 minutes apart, and it was clear I would need to drive DH to the train for work.  I decided to pick up Hummingbird then because I was already part of the way to her.  So, when I got to her 20 minutes after dropping DH off, I realized I left my house keys in another coat pocket!  So, I had to drive downtown to get DH's.  I discovered that the weather was bad enough that streets and san was already falling behind.  Our usually pristine major thorough fares were not pristine.  The interstate was also not great.  We made it home safely, though, with only a wee bit of sliding around.  A friend texted to ask me to cover the candle desk at church, and our Sunday school director texted to say she was afraid she wouldn't make it out of her alley.  So, when we got home at 8:45, I still had to get ready, but I had no time.  That meant no shower!  I brushed my hair and pulled it back with a headband, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and we headed out.  I felt I should warn everyone and stand back a bit, but apparently I don't smell too bad after one day.  That's a relief.

The kids moaned as we walked to church in the driving snow, but I was not going to pull my car out again.  We did cut through the tunnel in a hospital parking lot and then cut through the hospital. That helped some, but when we arrived our snow boots had not worked fully and we all had to shake snow out.  Probably the saddest part of the day was having to postpone a pre-release party for Catherine's Pascha, a new book by Charlotte Riggle.  Very few kids showed up to church and many people left quickly at the end.  We'll get to do the party as part of our Lenten Retreat, though, and it will fit in well.  Bumble Bee can't wait; she has been reading the book since it arrived.

Despite the difficulties presented by the weather, Bumble Bee is completely enjoying herself.  She has been jumping on the snow, throwing snow balls, planning a snowman, and hoping for the day off tomorrow.  They just had to make up a day for the missed school days early last month.  I guess if they get out tomorrow, we'll lose President's day in a couple of weeks, or add yet another day at the end of the year.  I want year-round school.  Sleeping in through more of the winter would be a welcome trade for a few weeks less in the summer!  Plus, not only would it prevent a scramble for "emergency" childcare, but it would prevent some of the "summer learning slide" we hear so much about these days.  For a place like Chicago, it's really the way to go!

Oh well, that's my rambling rant.  Time to make hot chocolate and put on a good, winter movie.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Etsy Listing: American Girl-style Potholders

On the second the girls and I went to American Girl Place with friends to "meet" the new Girl of the Year.  We were all so excited about her.  She loves to bake (and even comes with a dog mixer -- large Kitchen Aid mixer) and visits Paris.  We haven't read the books just yet, but she and her friends apparently hold bake sales, and American Girl Place is encouraging girls to do bake sales to support No Kid Hungry.  I love it!

Anyway, my kids have been taking cooking classes off & on since they turned 3, so we love this new doll!  Well, AGP gave away free aprons last week, and if you buy her accessories you can get some bakeware, an apron, and even miniature food.  What I didn't see, though, was a potholder.   So, I made my own!

I've listed these for $4.50 for a set of 2.  Check out the listing here.