Dinner Placemats of the Thankful Variety.

I’m taking the week off of blogging for the holiday, and I thought I’d leave you with what Ali and I created last Thanksgiving. But don’t let this post fool you – I haven’t done a single holiday thing with the kids yet this year. So if you have any quick Thanksgiving-ey craft ideas that could alleviate my Mommy Guilt, link them or tell me about them in the comments. I NEED YOU. And I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Originally Posted December 2, 2013


Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

I have a confession to make: I am a cynical Thankgivingist.

Not about the family or the food or internal giving of thanks, but mainly about public thanksgiving.

I shy away from posting what I’m thankful for or doing Thanksgiving crafts with my kids because I fear it will be contrived rather than genuine. Not to say that other people aren’t genuinely thankful in November, but something about being put on the spot to be publically thankful RIGHT NOW makes me thanks-adverse.

I know, I know – this makes me a horrible person. I acknowledge this and am thankful that God will forgive me for my abounding cynicism.

But I found myself quite accidentally thankscrafty last week. It came upon me unexpectedly and was a genuine moment of thankfulness shared between Ali and I – exactly the way I prefer it.

Ali lives to make and give away cards. She has giant bags full of cards that she’s spent hours making, and at the beginning of the day, she’ll ask me who we might see so that she can prepare herself with the number of cards needed.

She is so task-oriented about her card supply that she often heaves a great sigh and says “I have SO MUCH CARD WORK to do during quiet time.”

…because her current inventory of 487,000 cards is never enough.

As such, I told her a few days in advance that we would be having our family over for Thanksgiving, and that it was the perfect opportunity to make cards. And, since it was Thanksgiving and all, it would be fantastic if she could write each person a note saying what she was thankful for about them.

She jumped at the idea. We made a master list of our guests (16 people), and I helped her brainstorm about each card, then I left her to her work.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

I’m pretty sure she spent an entire quiet time intricately crafting her notes, and they were awesome – even containing illustrations.

I have several books full of scrapbook paper left over from my ModPodge Framing days, and I thought it might be fun to add a border to her cards.

Then I was all like, to heck with it – we’ll use a full sheet to back each card.

As we worked, I realized that they were now pretty much the perfect size for placemats – and we had a serendipitous moment of thanksgiving for our crafting fortune.

We finished backing all of our cards Wednesday evening, and on Thursday morning, as I was admiring our work, Chris said, “I assumed you were going to laminate those.”

LAMINATION!! Now THAT’S something I can be thankful for!

I whipped out my laminator and figured out how I could use 1 1/3 sheets of the laminating plastic I had in stock to on each card to seal them into perfect placemats.

And as the children watched the parade, I basked in my coffee, pretty papers, delightful notes, and my best friend the laminator.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

That right there is the cure for any amount of Thanksgiving cynicism.

I had to trim the pages ever so slightly for them to fit, but in the end, they made for my most favorite placemats ever.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

And they helped create a beautiful makeshift-tablescape for seventeen:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(The kid’s placemats later got moved to the kid’s tables.)

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

They didn’t photograph well individually, but here are a few of my favorites.

Ali’s thankful for her Great-Grandmother because she gets to give her cards.  I told you she was a cardaholic. Also – that drawing totally looks like Mammaw.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

For my Mom, she was sure to point out “Hey Gramamma – see all those circles on your face? I drew your moles for you.”

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(And no, those are moley hands, not chocolate chip cookies.)

Ali already enjoys partying with her brother and he’s not even in preschool yet. Mental note: send them to separate colleges.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(NO, Y’ALL – Noah’s holding a Lego, not a bong.)

Her cousin Eli was given three illustrations to help him choose his facial covering for Movember:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

My brother Nick is good for one thing:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

Which may or may not be as fun as the one thing that my brother JC is good for:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

And of course, I surprised Ali by adding in a seventeenth card.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

Which pretty much abdicates me from all of my thankful cynicism ever, and prevents the generational spread of my disease.

Or at least I’m hoping so.

Isn’t it Time to Talk to Your Doctor?

Have you found yourself weepy during this deplorable deletion of Daylight Savings Time and simultaneous bout of horrific weather? Have you looked out the window to the darkness, cursing its existence? Do you feel hopeless, as if warmth will never return to your life?

Then you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, along with millions of other Americans.

Which means that you may qualify for a free drug trial* for Fiji®!

Fiji is a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder that targets your Serotonin receptors to fool your body into thinking that it’s summertime and your life is a permanent vacation. To help you visualize what this drug does inside of you, picture Olaf singing about Summer. The way the drug is administered is that you simply take a trip to the island of Fiji.

SAD AdUnderlying photo by Christian Haugen. Because I haven’t been to Fiji. But it’s definitely right for me.

The study is a double-blind trial, so you will not know whether you are in the control group or test group. Well yes, you probably will. Because if you’re chosen for the control group, you’ll still be sitting in your living room in the dark behind a pile of snow. But if you’re chosen for the test group, you’ll receive an all-expenses paid* trip to Fiji!

So while you are lounging in the sun on a flawless beach with an umbrella in your frozen drink, we will be monitoring your overall mental health to determine if Fiji® is an effective treatment for SAD. While you’re on a private yacht at sunset dancing with your significant other while dolphins jump up and create heart shapes with their tails in the background, we will interrupt for just a second to get you to choose the face that represents how you’re feeling:

SAD Scale

And then, after returning home and having a full, frigid, dark-by-afternoon Monday back in your normal life, we will ask you to reassess your mood on the above scale so that we can quantify the efficacy of Fiji®.

So talk to your doctor. See if Fiji® may be right for you.

Side effects include extreme depression upon the discontinuance of this drug, impulsive behaviors that may include selling all possessions and attempting to hitchhike to Fiji, sudden and extreme political involvement and lobbying for the permanence of Daylight Savings Time, and death. Because all drugs these days could cause death. Talk to your doctor to make sure that you’re healthy enough for Fiji®. If you find yourself daydreaming about Fiji® for more than four hours, seek medical attention immediately.

Disclaimer: Despite our overwhelming confidence that it will prove to be 100% effective for the treatment of SAD, This drug will not be covered by Obamacare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare, or any other type of insurance.

* All Expenses Paid, with the exception of airfare, accommodations, meals, and expenses.

The Day I Started Wearing Leggings as Pants.

Leggings as Pants

It’s a tough row to hoe, sharing one’s principles on the internet.

Because sometimes you end up changing those principles. And there’s nothing the internet loves more than hypocrisy.

For instance, the time that I made fun of Toms, then had to admit that it was all my son would wear – and worse, that I was starting to like them.

Since I wrote that, my son’s collection has only grown, Ali has a couple of pairs, and I now own four (four!) pairs of Toms myself, with one more on the way.

Toms Collection

I know. Right? I should fire me.

But leggings not being pants is a principle I’ve long stood by. Crotches were meant to be covered by more than cotton/lycra stretch fabric – because extraordinarily unsightly things can happen when they’re not.

But then.

Then I began running this summer.

Running voraciously, daily, and passionately.

There was no problem at first because it was summer – I was running in shorts and a tank top, blissfully unaware at the wretched corner I was self-painting into.

I realized my error and began fretting as we entered September. It wasn’t time to make the decision yet, but I knew it was coming.

What would I wear for cold weather running?

This was a serious situation for me to grapple with. A perception-shattering dilemma. A potentially credibility-crushing decision.

I realize that running leggings are not at all the same thing as an Aztec-print legging that doesn’t line up in the crotch. But my town is brimming over with girls who wear workout leggings to hang out at Starbucks with full makeup and hair to accompany them, and I admit I’ve judged that, as well. It’s the “I want to look like I’ve been working out so I can get away with this outfit but I still want to look good while doing it” look.

At least I am aware of my stranger-judging problem. And that I am a terrible person.

So I began considering my options.

…There were loose running pants. This seemed fraught with issue. Knowing my level of grace I was sure to get my foot tangled in the cuff right as I was passing by a cliff and fall to my death.

No, I don’t want to die over my stand on pants.

…There were the skirt-over-leggings running pants.

I wore enough skorts in Junior High. No.

…I could wear shorts over my leggings. This was the most reasonable option, but it felt rather like a homeschooler trying to be overly modest at a 90’s track meet.

(I have reason to feel this way. We actually had to sew extra-wide ribbons on the ends of our already-long Umbros for our track meets. I feel it necessary to say that even the homeschool parents thought this practice was ridiculous – it was the private school sports association hosting the track meet that required such full coverage, along with the sleeved t-shirts.)

Track Meet Nineties

Umbros have never felt so violated.

(It should also be noted that there were no corresponding Rules of Decency for males at this track meet, as my brother’s Creeper Mustache more than adequately proves.)

Shorts-over-leggings was not a viable option for me.

And so my choices seemed to sift through my fingers, nothing left but grossly trespassing my principles.

And trespass I did.

I clenched my teeth, balled my hands up into determined fists, and bought four pairs of running leggings – one pair’s tag even used the phrase “Running Tights.”

And I wore them.

In public.

With a shirt not covering my butt.


And when I finished running, I went to Target.

And I bought coffee.

And I even ate a meal out with my husband.

And I judged myself harshly.

Then one day, the universe gave me the opportunity to complete my full level of hypocrisy – I went running after being super dressed up for something else.

So I was in public in running clothes and full makeup and hair. Which means that perhaps all those other girls at Starbucks had also just been running in their full makeup and hair. And that I’m a terrible person.

Chris demanded that I take a photo of my moment of breaking every principle I held dear (and looking downright ridiculous).


At least you can’t see my leggings as pants. Or the Frappuccino.