At work.

Me, working as the Video Project Lead for the 2014 Bank of American Shamrock Shuffle 8k race.

No slate, so I’m clapping so we can sync things later.


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Gone Fishin’

Recently, the Littles went on their very first fishing expedition with their pal from church, Franny. Also helpful was the fishing know-how that Franny’s dad brought to the table! Although, Papa is an experienced fisherman (at least, in his youth, he was) and got in the groove fairly quickly.

This was Mama’s second time out. I haven’t been since a time a friend took me…and I must’ve been about 12 or 13 years old. Yes, I put some worms on hook. I even split a couple in two. With. My. Bare. Hands.

Oona, staunch adventurer that she is, put worms on hooks. Twyla didn’t like how slimy the fish were and abstained. Izzi was super focused and caught quite a few! Marla enjoyed the scenery as much as anything else, and although she caught a fish or two, she was more interested in running in circles on the pier.

The final verdict is that they all want their own fishing poles, and to catch the fish for eating next time.





















Twyla as Storyteller

Recently, Twyla had plans for a play-date with a pal from school. She announced that she needed to make a gift, “I know, I’ll write a book!”

Here is the tale she told. She was careful to point out that on the first page she wanted to show the main character being lonely. You’ll see the other two students chatting at their desks, with the main character alone, in the front. It was also explained to me that this was based on her own friendship with this girl, but that she knows “I had friends already, but if the girl in the story doesn’t have any, it makes a better story!’

Way to raise the stakes! You make this screenwriting instructor-mama proud.


“My Friend”


“I have no friends at school.”


“The other kids do.”


“The teacher said a new girl was coming.”


“I waited.”


“Finally the day came for the new girl to come.”


“The new girl liked me.”

The Littles and Piglets

We took a trip to the piggy farm yesterday. Matthew sells for Nate and LouAnn at farmers markets, and they were having an employee appreciation gathering.

It was a fun day (but unseasonably chilly!) with a hayride, yummy dinner, playing for hours in the yard, and chatting with friends old and new.






Nate explains that this is the pasture where the pigs will spend the summer. They aren’t using this pasture yet, since the wildlife around is having babies this time of year.







A Little Mending

What? You haven’t heard from me in a bit? Last week was crazynutsinsane. I know I did stuff…but what? Oh yeah, grading, cooking, driving, playing in the snow, working, errands, accommodating Matt’s crazy schedule, etceteraaaah!

Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself “Geez I really ought to get this place together. What with that Lenten promise to simplify and all, this mess is just not workin’ for me!”

And then I looked around. The living room: full of laundry. The girls room: explosion + fort. The kitchen: broken dishwasher awaiting word from fix-it dude. My room: more laundry. The dining room: another explosion. I may have cried. And then I made some coffee.

It was all so overwhelming, and I was seized with unbelievable fatigue at the idea of tackling it all. But I knew that just plunking down and ignoring it was just kicking the can down the road. So, I decided to a little mending. I’ve had a mending pile for ages that needed tending to. This felt like I was doing something. It was a little something, but I could sit and drink my coffee while I did it.

It was calming. It was grounding. I could only focus on one thing at a time. I was quickly rewarded with a big pile of new-to-us-once-again duds all fixed up!

I think the Littles felt that too. I’m positive the chaotic mess we’re in right now affects their behavior. But when I sat there, stitching up tears and holes in some of our favorite clothes, they played pretty well together.

Once they realized what was happening, they all buzzed with excitement, running upstairs to the pile to look for one of their own garments that was still in the pile to bring down to me. What was old was new again, and they all insisted on wearing their ‘new’ duds for the rest of the afternoon. Izzi was especially happy to be reunited with the flannel nightgown I had sewn her last winter and soon after developed a tear. (I told you that pile was there for ages!)





And a funny thing happened when I was through with my pile. I felt like I could tackle the pile of laundry that needed to be folded in the living room. Know what? I did, too!

But the mess in the kitchen? Oh, that I left for Matthew! Tee hee hee!

Reading Round-Up

I have to catch my reading in little snippets. As a result, I usually have a handful of books scattered around the house, ready for me to pick up, based on my mood or, honestly, just their proximity to me if I’m pinned to the spot by a toddler wanting to be in my lap!


Here is a round-up of my reading in progress:

: Child of the Northern Spring

It is the first book in the Guinevere trilogy, Camelot as told through Guinevere’s eyes. Fun, fantasy and provides me with much-needed escapism at times!


: This blog post by Kristin Thompson about the contenders in the animation category for the Oscars.

It has me thinking a lot about the careful process of making an animated film, and how that isn’t the case for live action these days. Lots of good pull quote possibilities for inspiration.


: Brother Sun Sister Moon 

Loving the paper cut artwork in this book, which has got me reading:


: St Francis of Assissi

G.K. Chesterton’s look at the beloved Saint.


:The Talk

Because locking them up in a cloister or denying that my girls will ever be teenagers with hormones is probably not the best parenting strategy.


: Bright Evening Star

A Madeline L’Engle meditation/memoir.


: Hitchcock/Truffaut

I dip in here regularly. It was a sweet used bookstore find once-upon-a-time!


: Collected Stories of Willa Cather

Loved My Antonia, and am trying to make my way through some other work of hers. Another used bookstore goody.


Ah! A whole post without any cute kid pictures? Okay, here is one, taken by Marla of Oona a few days ago:



Happy Valentine’s Day!



These wee owls all have two chocolate hearts in them. The girls made them for their ballet classmates. I found the idea on Pinterest.


Twyla had a special request of chocolate covered strawberries to give to her classmates at school.




Instead of handing out Valentines to each of her classmates, in Twyla’s classroom, each student draws a name and then makes one very special Valentine for that person. Twyla wanted to write a book; she narrated it to me and then illustrated it. After that, I sewed it up with a felt cover, and she needle felted a heart on to it.

I made the girls some story stones and wee heart-shaped lavender sachets to tuck by their pillows at night and give them sweet dreams.


I sewed Matthew some pajama pants and gave him a silly card:



Izzi drew me something special, and I also got a giant chocolate turtle from the family.

Tonight, we’ll also get a heart-shaped deep dish pizza for supper. That has been our tradition for the decade that we’ve been in Chicago.

The first Valentines Day that we were here, Matthew and I had big date-night plans. Matt was going to the gym after work, and then we’d go out.

I got myself ready for a night on the town, and then sat and waited for him to get back from working out.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited some more. By now, I was getting, well peeved would be an understatement.

By the time he got back I was fuming, and we duked it out. He’d been pulled over for having a headlight out, and frazzled at being pulled over, didn’t find the insurance card. Which, of course, was found as soon as he got home. I should have been sympathetic to what was surely an unpleasant incident for him.

I was not.

It was late, we were tired and angry. So, we just ordered a pizza from the place down the street.

When it arrived, it was in the shape of a heart!

And we both laughed and all the other stuff melted away and we cracked a couple of beers and had a nice time.

Ever since, we’ve eschewed the usual Valentines-night-out plans and ordered heart-shaped pizza. It has also proven to be a very family-friendly tradition!

Ash Wednesday


This past Shrove Sunday, after mass, we burned the palms from last year to be used for this year’s ashes at mass today.

**I’d like to add an addendum to this post. I talk about churchy stuff on occasion, and while I don’t mention Jesus here, he is, y’know…strongly implied. I write all of this realizing that the vast majority of my friends and acquaintances these days don’t identify as being Christian…maybe you are atheists, or Deists, or identify more with the SBNR crowd…and I know some of you are even openly hostile to religion of any kind.

But, now is the time when many of us start to think about spring cleaning. So, maybe when I say God, you could put in to place whatever you find important and want to focus on. Or think about who you are grateful to, whenever you feel gratitude.**

I don’t recollect attending church services as a kid on ash Wednesday. We may or may not have; it doesn’t stand out in my mind. A couple of years ago, once we started attending church regularly again, the first ash Wednesday mass had a profound effect on me. I remember getting teary on the way back to the pew, after the ashes were placed on me.

It wasn’t a sad moment, or one full of fear…I remember that for a quick moment, everything came in to sharp focus. Important things were important, and the rest dissolved to a soft presence in the background.

It feels a bit silly to even write that; articulating something of the soul is always going to feel clunky and awkward, I suppose.

With fifty percent of the Dallman Littles under the weather today, I am hoping that we’re all well enough to go to mass this evening.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to observe Lent this year. I never felt much drive or call to ‘give something up,’ although I realize that is a very common way of observing the season. It always felt a bit false or too temporary, or needlessly punitive to me.  I had a fairly lengthy talk with Matthew the other night about the idea of mortification and what it means and what the theology (not just popular piety) about it says.

I’ll distill a very long, round-about conversation to the idea that mortification during Lent shouldn’t be about just giving up fudge for forty days, only to go back to it with a vengeance on Easter Sunday, but that whatever you do should be in the vein of simplifying or bringing you closer to God.  So, maybe you give up fudge because you feel an unhealthy dependence on it, and then at Easter-tide, you still may eat it. However, now you are changed. Instead of relying on that fudge in an unhealthy way; as a crutch or a substitute, now, hopefully, you can enjoy it as the gift that it is. So, that might mean eating the fudge less, or giving it some focus and attention that wasn’t there before.

Your habits have changed.

I like that idea of this season of renewal being about changing or improving habits, of bringing things in to sharp focus once again.

What I’ve settled on for this year, actually, what Matthew and I have decided to do together is a household ‘purge’ as we clean this season. Both of us have been distracted by our perennial problem of too-much-stuff-too-little-house. Truth be told our house is great; there are many people the world over who would be grateful for a place like this. But when it gets so cluttered and messy, it is hard to see that. Instead I harp on needing a bigger, better place (which we’re in no place to afford any time soon), or I get grumpy with Matt and the kids about all their stuff. Then I get upset because I could sure use more work space…and, well, you see the spiral that I cascade down. Very quickly our modest little place is not a gift, but a place to escape from. That doesn’t sound like what home should be!

So! As we move from room to room in the coming weeks, doing day to day cleaning, we’ve both resolved to toss or donate what we don’t use and don’t have need of.  We will also find a couple of days to do a more thorough cleaning of a couple of particularly beastly areas. What remains will (hopefully) bring once again in to focus that which we truly need, that which we find beautiful or is sentimental, or brings us enjoyment, and so can be enjoyed and valued and cared for as the gift that it is to have these things.

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.

Fat Tuesday!

Here are a couple of snapshots from the set up and the Shrove Sunday Pancake Luncheon at our parish. Enjoy your paczkis today!






Tooth Fairies and Princesses

Saturday morning, I was busy with driving Marla to and from ballet, and then was headed to church to help set up for our Shrove Sunday pancake meal when I got a phone call from Matthew. He wanted me to get to the dentist right away.

We had noticed two grown up teeth coming in behind Twyla’s wigglies in the front (her very first wigglies, mind you!), bottom part of her mouth and were concerned that the wigglies should just get extracted. We were proved right, when the dentist pulled two teeth right there, lickity split!

Aside from my morning getting turned a bit upside down, we were also caught off guard since we had no tooth fairy pillow! Eeep!

This is a craft that has been started and stopped a few times…lost teeth seemed so far off, so it seemed neither myself nor any of the Littles was much interested in it. So, Twyla and I put our heads together and came up with the pillow we made here. She did the needle felting (I helped a bit in terms of figuring out how to get the picture she wanted), and then I sewed it up on the sewing machine.

She refused to go to bed without having completed the project. Our Saturday was already pretty busy, so I’d say we finished up the pillow around 10:30pm! That’s probably about the time that the tooth fairy starts making her rounds…









We also had a birthday party this weekend (Did I mention it was a busy weekend?!) for one of the Littles’ friends to attend. So, I made this wee Princess and the Pea set.