Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zoo!

Other than friends, the Memphis Zoo is the one thing we really, really miss now that we no longer live in the area. It’s been quite a while since we’ve visited. We had hoped to go last fall so we could see the new Teton Trek, but it just never worked out. But, when a couple of families from church mentioned they were going during spring break and when we found out closing was going to be on the same day, we just couldn’t resist! As soon as we were done with closing in Southaven, we quickly made our way up to the zoo to join the rest of the Almyrans.

We really didn’t expect it to be as crowded as it was. The Memphis area had been on spring break the week before. But, apparently, we weren’t the only Arkansas folks who decided the Thursday of Arkansas’ spring break was a good day to go! With the extra crowd, keeping track of eight kids, six of them four and under, took a little more attentiveness than expected. But, it definitely didn’t decrease the fun at all! We thoroughly enjoyed the group outing!

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Here’s Angie in the middle of the younger ones as they all watch the penguins: Sawyer, Steven (hiding behind Angie on her left), Ian, and Jada.

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We had to go say hi to the hippos for Grandma! The next major construction for the zoo will be the Hippo Camp. The plan is to create an underwater viewing spot for visitors, similar to the polar bear and sea lion exhibits. That’s an exciting prospect, especially considering how hard it is to really see the hippos right now.

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We have a picture of the kids with the alligator for PopPop, but it doesn’t seem to want to make itself available for use just yet! Ah, computers. So, it will get its own post a little later.

My little prisspot. Isn’t she cute?

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Since we have officially passed the stroller stage of life (a sad thing – strollers are so useful!), we were exceedingly thankful to have Steven’s wagon to take with us. It was supposed to be for hauling the cooler, jackets, etc. around. But, Steven claimed it as his ride pretty quickly! He would jump out to look at animals and then exclaim, “Where’s my little red wagon?!” and jump right back in. He was so precious in his excitement over his little red wagon!

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Olivia was delighted all day because she got to push one of the strollers around. We could tell by the end of the day that she was getting tired, but she was determined to keep pushing until the very end!

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We managed to squeeze in something on this trip that our family has never done before – the sea lion show. Here are Jada and my kids finishing a snack and waiting for the show to start.

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Part of our group.

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All the kids (well, except baby Knox) watching the giraffes. I think Sawyer (in the stroller) was just done by this time!

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Steven proudly pulling his little red wagon back to the van at the end of a very fun day.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This and That

I have a whole bunch of pictures to post. Alli came last Monday and took family pictures. They are so fun! I want to share some of them, both here and on Facebook.

Then there was the Memphis trip last week. We were 20 minutes away from home when I realized I’d forgotten the camera. I knew on Wednesday as I was getting stuff together that I was forgetting something. I guess the camera, while frustrating, was not a truly critical thing to forget. We definitely needed things like pajamas, clean underwear, toothbrushes, and food more! Anyway, I did get some pictures with my phone. Not quite like the camera, but still got some cute ones.

The trip was lots of fun. We thought we were going to go to the zoo, walk around a while, then leave the kids and go to close on the house, and then come back and pick them up. But, on Wednesday closing time changed to 11:00 Thursday morning! Perfect! We pulled into Southaven, got all of the papers signed in about 15 minutes while the kids sat perfectly on a couch reading and waiting for us. Then we met the rest of the Almyra gang at the zoo, ate lunch, and enjoyed a nice, long visit at the zoo. It was much more crowded than we expected – Arkansas spring break does have a big impact on the Memphis Zoo, apparently! But, it was still lots of fun.

Then there was our Saturday trip. I did remember the camera that day! Grandpa’s 90th birthday. Despite being tired from the week, it was a good day.

So, those are the pictures to be anticipating, once I finally actually go through them and turn them into a blog post.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying a nice, normal week. It’s cloudy and has been for several days. If it were raining, that would be great. But, the clouds are starting to get to us. We need either rain or sunshine!

So, that’s my little miscellaneous blog post of the day. More because I really wanted to post than anything else! Hopefully by tomorrow or Friday I’ll have something “real” to post!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, March 28, 2011

Outside my window...gray skies and an unseasonable chill – it feels much more like an Arkansas winter day than a spring one. 

I am thinking...about how much I would love to spend the rest of the afternoon snuggled up on the couch just reading and eating chocolate. Inspiring thoughts, I know.
I am thankful for...the fact that we are no longer homeowners, yet we still have a wonderful place to live that truly feels like “home.”  Both thoughts bring a huge smile to my face.
I am wearing...house shoes, jeans, a heavy maroon button-down shirt with Pooh & Piglet on the pocket.
I am creating...summer gowns for the girls, a project I intended to start several weeks ago, but was delayed. Hope to get them done before it gets warm again.
I am remembering...memorizing Psalm 23 for the first time. It was about thirty years ago.
I am going...to get back to writing on this blog more than once or twice a week.
I am reading...Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer and Heaven Revealed by Paul Enns
I am hoping...that Doug’s most recent jury summons will not make it too difficult for him to keep up with school. But, I’m thankful that it is this week instead of last week when it would have interfered with closing on the house. 
I am hearing...quiet – I love early afternoons!
On my mind...the Choates as they deal with sleepless nights and other challenges of daily life on a remote Pacific island. 
From the learning rooms...the Monitor and the Merrimac & the CSS Hunley; circuit symbols & the history of lighting from fires to low-energy fluorescent bulbs; Olivia: different types of letters (friendly, business, thank-you, post cards), estimation & equations; Angela: LA review, graphs; Steven: new sight words, solidifying his first set of consonant blends, very basic addition & subtraction concepts.
Noticing that...I’m missing the sunshine; it peeked out a little earlier in the day, but it’s cloudy again now. Reminds me to pray for those who live in places with very little sunshine.
Pondering these words... “The disorganization in my life was not due to lack of knowledge or skill and it was not due to a problem in my childhood. Rather, it’s a broken belief system: a heart issue, a sin issue. At the end of the day, it’s idolatry.” from The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin
From the kitchen...a return to disciplined eating. 
Around the house...order being restored. Thanks to the help of my amazing husband, the kitchen is clean except for putting away a few clean dishes, and the laundry is completely caught up – even folded and put away. The overwhelmed feeling that hit me when we got home Saturday is definitely fading away. I’m so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.
One of my favorite things...a good book.
A few plans for the rest of the week...get back to normal. Other than Doug’s jury duty tomorrow (hopefully just a one-day trial), we have no atypical plans until my minister’s wives event on Saturday. Such a nice thought!
A picture worth sharing...as Steven was listening in school this morning, he was also intently drawing. I’m going to try to make the picture big enough for you to see his drawing. There are crop duster airplanes and helicopters, a couple of runways, and hangars complete with wind socks on flagpoles beside them. He drew checkmarks (Olivia taught him how, so he draws them like a leftie!) beside the drawings he likes the best and an “x” over the one he felt he didn’t draw well enough. He is so very detailed in his drawings.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tractor!

It’s easy to excite our little boy around here. Between the crop dusters and the various heavy machinery, there is no end to his delight. But, it gets even more exciting when something comes to our own yard!

We decided to try our hand at gardening this year. Novices that we are, there’s no telling how it will all turn out. But, we’ll be trying. Jonathan had offered to bring his tractor over to till up the ground for us, and Saturday night he and Ian showed up to do just that.

The boys diligently supervised the job.100_8897

Then they inspected it. 100_8898

Finally, they pulled out their own tractors to polish it off.  100_8902

Yep, living in farm country is one exciting life!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, March 21, 2010

Outside my window...bright sunshine and spring warmth; birds singing; a freshly tilled section of the yard, soon to be ready for our first garden.

I am thinking...about heaven. It seems to be a topic God is putting before me frequently – my current book review book, Sunday school yesterday, a bit of Doug’s sermon, our Easter musical, just to name a few. Trying to contemplate how I need to be more heavenly minded. I do know I had chills of joy as we discussed it in Sunday school yesterday.

I am thankful for...forgiveness and free hotel nights. Odd combination, I know.

I am wearing...coral skirt and green short-sleeve top; feet bare; hair down.

I am creating...nothing, and I don’t like it. Maybe next week.

I am remembering...the last and only time I participated in attempting a garden. It was in Jordan, and the far-reaching, shallow roots of the numerous pine trees soaked up all of the water and nutrients the garden needed. The melons that weren’t affected were eaten by crows just before they were ready to harvest. It was rather sad because we worked really hard on that garden!

I am going...to read blogs again – it’s been almost a week since I’ve had a chance to look at any of my favorite blogs.

I am reading...Heaven Revealed by Paul Enns

I am hoping...the sun is shining brightly when it comes time for pictures this afternoon

I am hearing...music, birds, kids playing quietly

On my mind...the upcoming week.

From the learning rooms...finishing Olivia’s testing this morning (we weren’t able to finish last Tuesday), getting ahead on some reading Tues & Wed since we won’t have a full school week.

Noticing that...it takes a lot of encouragement to make up for a little discouragement.

From the kitchen...I have absolutely no idea. I completely forgot to plan for this week!

Around the house...wide open windows and wonderful fresh air. Quite the blessing after having to close up the house and run the AC last night because it was so still and stuffy.

One of my favorite things...light and brightness.

A few plans for the rest of the week...this afternoon: Alli coming for a brief visit & to find new subjects for her photography habit (which means family pictures for us!!). Tues & Wed: all the activities & work that usually fits into a week – including two days of school. Thursday: Memphis!! First stop, the zoo with some families from church. Then, we’ll leave the kids at the zoo (probably in the care of the polar bears) that afternoon while we go close on the Horn Lake house! Big, big, big smile! We’ll spend Thursday night so we don’t have to drive home in the dark with an iffy headlight. Friday: trip home, fellowship with church friends for supper. Saturday: prayer walking around town in preparation for Easter followed by trip to Judsonia to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday.

A picture worth sharing...ready for baseball season! Thanks, Uncle Ben & Aunt Ashley!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, March 15, 2001

Outside my window...a beautiful sunset in a sky that is clear now after having been cloudy all day.

I am thinking...rather jumbled thoughts right now. Maybe I need to journal or write and try to untangle them all.

I am thankful for...my wonderful friend Mary Ann who is giving me a much-needed mommy break not once but twice this week. Today it was lunch with the senior ladies at church (such a fun group!) and Friday it will be a day with my amazing hubby. I am also incredibly thankful for the good news we received today. The short sale on our MS house has been approved, and if all continues to finalize smoothly, we will no longer be homeowners as of the end of next week!

I am wearing...jeans and the brightest shirt I could find this morning – a 3/4 sleeve top covered with hot pink flowers. It was cold with a biting wind all day, but I was in such a spring mood.

I am creating...a sort of work flow system (with major assistance from my talented husband) – kind of like a schedule, but one that is easily adjustable based on the needs and demands of the week. Hoping that helps me keep up with each week’s needs a little better.

I am going...to adjust to the time change. I am. About the time it changes again.

I am reading...just finished Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall & Miriam Flaud; getting ready to start Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs – a book I’ve been anticipating for a while! And, this one is NOT for review, school, or anything else – this is actually pure enjoyment. My smile is rather big right now.

I am hoping...we hear very soon what our closing date is so we can plan accordingly.

I am hearing...a tractor outside, silence in the house as the kids are all having their evening book time & Doug is finishing up the bills.

On my mind...Japan; friends

From the learning rooms...more Civil War & Abraham Lincoln; more electricity; starting consonant blends in phonics (Steven); annual testing (Olivia)

Noticing that...my kids are as giddy about new books as their parents.

Pondering these words... “Parenting is hard because you’re aiming at a moving target.” ~Doug

From the kitchen...plans to make homemade chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

Around the house...a need to catch up on everything.

One of my favorite things...a plan

A few plans for the rest of the week...finishing Olivia’s testing; church; a Friday trip either to Little Rock for just a date day or to Southaven/Memphis for closing and an abbreviated date day; in-laws coming for a visit on Sunday; Alli coming on Monday.

A picture worth sharing...Angela & Jack reading together

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Trees!

Four years ago, we planted trees in our yard. Two apples, two peaches, a walnut, and a maple. We were so excited! But, a year and a half later, just a month or two before those first few peaches could be picked, we moved. Our former neighbor told us that she enjoyed those peaches immensely last year (and probably will this year, too!), but we never did get to taste one.

While moving back to Arkansas was a wonderful thing, we so greatly missed our trees. Two and a half years after that move, we are finally back in a place where we can try again.

Last Monday Doug and I braved the chilly, biting wind to plant six trees. They don’t look like much right now – just sticks poking up out of the ground. But, in the coming months we’ll get to watch the leaves begin to sprout and the branches begin to grow and thicken. We could have a few pieces of fruit, especially on the peach trees, by fall of 2012, but the real first crop should come by fall 2013.

In our front yard, on either side of our sidewalk, we have two peach trees. One is a 4th of July, and the other is a Flamin’ Fury. As unschooled as I am in peach varieties, I have no idea what they’ll taste like. But, I’m sure “really good” will be in the description when we bite into those first peaches!

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Because there are so many other wonderful trees in our yard, we didn’t have much room to plant more than those two fruit trees. But, some church members own the lot next to us, and they graciously granted us permission to plant along the edge of their property. That’s where the four apple trees are.

Here’s the Fuji in all its current impressive glory! 

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We also have a Gala, a Cinnamon Spice, and a Double Delicious (it will grow both Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples on one tree! Fun!).

We have pictures of every “stick” so far, and we plan to take pictures of the trees every week to measure growth. Just three days after planting, we saw signs of budding on both peach trees and a couple of the apple trees. We haven’t been back out there since Friday, but we should be back out tomorrow to get some mulch around the trees and to take week 2 pictures. We also hope to do special things like take kids’ birthday pictures by the trees to show them growing together! I’m so excited to be back in the fruit tree growing business!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weddings & Fire Trucks

A couple in our church is getting married this weekend. It’s always fun when it’s not just church members but true friends. We’ve enjoyed getting to be a small part of the preparations. 

But, that’s not exactly what this post is about. Yesterday afternoon we went to the community center to see the decorations (which are GORGEOUS!). The fire station shares a building with the community center, and the chief of the volunteer fire dept just so happens to be the bride’s father. And he was naturally there when we went to see d├ęcor.

I was chatting with some of the ladies and looked up to find that the rest of my family had disappeared. It shouldn’t have come as any surprise to find them out looking over the fire truck and equipment with Mr. Jimmy!

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Yep, small towns are nice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Outside my window...a gloomy, chilly day, but I am thankful for both the rain and the cold. Also, new trees! Two peach trees in the front yard and four apple trees on the lot next to our house. Big smile!

I am thinking...about the house in Mississippi. I’ve been reminded enough about God’s promises lately to know I must rely on them, but I can’t help but wonder how in the world He’s going to take care of this situation. Praying that He will help me trust instead of worry.

I am thankful for...God’s promises.

I am wearing...jeans and a blue knit top. Probably should put some house shoes on my chilly toes.

I am creating...nothing much. My creative muscles are kind of lazy right now.

I am remembering...the year I turned 11. Mom and I were talking about that this morning – that’s the year she turned the age I am today (and she was so young!! Open-mouthed smile).

I am going...to enjoy my family on this nice, relaxing day. I’d planned for school, but I was easily convinced that I should take my birthday off since we typically take off for everyone else’s birthdays!

I am reading...Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud. Looking very forward to the Liz Curtis Higgs book releasing next Tuesday. One of the few times in recent years that I’ve found myself anxiously anticipating a new release!

I am hoping...for good news on the house very soon.

I am hearing... music playing, the kids helping to set the table, Doug working in the kitchen (cooking my birthday lunch).

On my mind...writing thoughts. Lots of ideas – wonder how many of them will actually transfer well from my mental images to black and white words.

From the learning rooms...Still on Abraham Lincoln and the early days of the Civil War; experiments with creating circuits and switches; seasons & weather (Steven). Oh, and Steven sight read his fourth book only needing help on a couple of words and without me reading it to him first. It’s definitely clicking! He’s also finding familiar words in other places. This week we’re focusing on long vowels.

Noticing that...it smells really good in here right now. I love my beloved husband’s cooking!

Pondering these words... “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Ps 23:1

From the kitchen...birthday lunch of smothered chicken, sweet-n-sour green beans, potatoes, crescent rolls, and chocolate peanut butter brownies.

Around the house...kids playing, cats roaming, fabric waiting to be used, tubs of winter clothes waiting for the last items to be placed inside so they can be stored in the attic.

One of my favorite things...cozy, rainy days that can be spent with my family.

A few plans for the rest of the week...school and church; going to get a hair cut on Friday – first time I’ve been to have someone else cut it in YEARS!; celebrating Bart & Tara’s wedding this weekend.

A picture worth sharing...he’s getting so big, capable, and independent!

Big Boy

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cookie Inspector

CI 7Yes, Steven got his cookies. And, yes, he put the shirt in the laundry. But, being the good boy that he is, he didn’t just come in and demand cookies. He actually helped make them. While I was finishing up some other work, he came in and asked what buttons he needed to push to preheat the oven! I was so proud of him for knowing that was the first step! His daddy must have taught him that because I sure didn’t!

When Olivia found out cookies were being made, she moved her school work to the bar so she wouldn’t miss out on anything (including a few chocolate chips to munch on while working and watching).

CI 6

Steven somehow knew a lot more than I expected about making cookies. I know he’s watched me before, but I’ve never really walked him through it. He knew we needed to get flour, eggs, and butter out. And, he knew that the butter works best if it’s melted. So, he took care of operating the microwave.

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Then he helped put the ingredients into the stand mixer and turn it on.

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Finally it was time for inspection #1. He had two lovely assistants helping with the inspection as well! The dough passed with flying colors.

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Then came the scooping out of the cookies. Steven only did a few of them, but he loved operating the scoop!

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And the Cookie Inspector’s final assessment? Lots of smiles. Between that and speed at which the batch disappeared, I think the cookies passed inspection.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

One More

“Steven, why is there a Pull-Up in that toy crate?”

“I don’t know.”

“You put it there. Why did you put it there?”

“It was a long, long time ago.” {Pause} “In a galaxy far, far away. On a cold planet. Someone sent it to me. They must have dropped it in my crate. Or I put it there when they sent it to me. I don’t know. It was a long, long time ago.”

Where does he get this stuff?

Stevenisms

I really wish I had written down more of the hilarious things my kids say sometimes. Lately, Steven has been on a roll.

Doug and I have some pet names for each other. Some of them we intentionally don’t say in front of the kids because we don’t want them repeated. Not that they’re bad, but you know kids…

But, the other day Doug called me “Hot Stuff” in front of Steven. His response?

“Mommy’s not hot stuff!” Very emphatically.

Then a couple of days ago I asked Steven to go do something for me and popped an M&M into his mouth as he passed by. He yelled, “Thanks for the M&M, Mommy!” from the other room. Doug shushed him, letting him know that the girls didn’t know about it. He then started teasing Steven, saying that if he let the girls know about the M&M we’d have to get the M&M from his tummy so we could cut it in thirds and give some to the girls. Steven’s very serious response?

“Daddy, that would take surgery.”

His further (and still serious) response when I rolled in laughter?

“Well it would take surgery!”

There was something else yesterday, but we can’t remember what it was! All I remember is that it began with, “I do believe…”  That seems to be a common phrase around our house these days. I have no idea how it started, although I’m sure it had something to do with Prisspot (aka Angela) who says it in a very proper tone. Steven typically mimics that the same attitude when he says it. Life with a child who is all boy yet is also the only male child in the family is definitely fun!

Finally, he has worn one of his favorite shirts nearly every day this week. He will do that – wear the same shirt over and over and over until we insist that it go in the laundry. I thought I had a picture of him in this one, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, it’s red (his favorite color) and has a large chocolate chip cookie on the front surrounded by the words “Cookie Inspector.” He has been told he must put it in the laundry tonight.  And yes, for the record, he does expect to be able to inspect some cookies, especially if today is the last time he can wear that shirt for a few days!  He has put in a specific request for chocolate chip cookies, and has informed me that it is necessary that he inspect the cookies before and after baking.

Ah, life with Steven – definitely fun!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Outside my window...bright sunshine, slight breeze, a yard full of leaves with blades of grass poking up here and there, birds everywhere!

I am thinking...about the writing I need to do today – I’m behind.

I am thankful for...the way God teaches me through my children.

I am wearing...jeans, 3/4 sleeve maroon top, house shoes

I am creating...more ties for Steven (special requests) and Etsy and summer pj’s for the girls.

I am remembering...teaching each of the girls to read. All three of my children are learning so differently from one another. Fascinating to watch.

I am going...to be home all week long. Wow! Wonder if it will actually translate into greater productivity?

I am reading...Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud; I also need to catch up on the girls’ reader.

I am hoping...the library has some of the books I want for Steven for the next few weeks.

I am hearing...the girls quietly playing in the back; birds chirping outside; a cat fussing somewhere – probably one of them wanting to come back inside.

On my mind...the need for real mentoring and discipleship in our churches.

From the learning rooms...Bible: Rom 8:38-39 & the events leading up to the crucifixion; history: Abraham Lincoln; science: more electricity & inventions; math: solving for “n”, estimating money, time, multiplying by 3, adding one; LA: possessive nouns & quotations, correcting run-on sentences, learning about exclamation points and question marks.

Noticing that...I work better when I’m not surrounded by clutter.

Pondering these words...You might be able to handle that situation by yourself, but you don't want to just get out of it, you want to honor God in it. You want to please Him. So in all your ways, you're going to put Him first. ~ James MacDonald in  Always True, discussing Prov 3:5-6

From the kitchen...trying to get rid of leftovers.

Around the house...spring cleaning, a little bit at a time

One of my favorite things...children who love to learn.

A few plans for the rest of the week...work at home; a trip to the library; prayerwalking around town on Saturday.

A picture worth sharing...Angela in her rather eclectic attire: a long-sleeve dress with a dress-up skirt underneath, a fleece scarf, and colorful toe socks.

Silly Angie