"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2015) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Winter Cold

I realized I'm more tolerant of cold weather leading up to Christmas and New Year's.  Now that both of those holidays have happened, I'm ready for it to warm up and I find that I've become much more impatient for the arrival of spring.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Favorite Books of 2014

I didn't read nearly as much as I normally read in a year this past year, so it feels like cheating to have a top ten.  Instead I'll just pick a few favorites.

The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by  Jonas Jonasson

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Books by Kaling, Jonasson and Vizzini include swearing (including the F-word).  Books by Simsion, McCahan and Vizzini include some mild sexual discussion.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Chinese Mileposts

Okay, I'm not fully caught up on the Wordpress blog, but I have us arriving in China in addition to all the prepping for China posts I wanted to get on there.

Hello from China!

 The trip to China took twice as long as expected (our L.A. to San Francisco to Beijing flight became spend a day at LAX, fly to Houston, sleep in the airport, fly to Washington D.C., fly to Beijing), but we finally made it.  We have almost two weeks under our belt now and are surviving.

Here's my dilemma, how should I handle my blogs?  When we found out we were moving to China I started a Wordpress blog specifically for our family's adventures in China because I'd heard that Google didn't work well in China.  Now that we are here, and have learned a few things, Google and Facebook are working fine for us.  So do I continue with my family blog on Blogger and this blog, or do I use my Wordpress blog?  I'm leaning toward keeping up the family blog (so at the end of the year I can print it as a Blurb book which I've been doing for several years now) and having a China specific blog at Wordpress.  So this blog might take a two year vacation, unless I guess I have stuff to blog that isn't family related and isn't specific to China.  We'll see... 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy 4th of July: A List

Our 4th of Julys together:

Year          Lived in:              Saw fireworks at:
2001          California             from truck at Outlet Mall in Camarillo
2002          California             ?
2003          California             ?
2004          California              Camarillo Fireworks w/P cousins
2005          California              ?
2006          Kansas                   at the Mileses' house
2007          Kansas                   Fireworks show rained out at Royals game.
2008          Kansas                   Chesterfield, MO (w/ Grandparents M)
2009          Kansas                   Duck Creek Village, UT (no fireworks)
2010          Virginia                  Manassas fireworks show
2011          Virginia                  Driving home from Ohio, fireworks on drive
2012          Virginia                  Richmond, Squirrels game w/ the Ps
2013          Virginia                  on the levee in town, Ohio
2014           Ohio                      on the levee in town, Ohio

4th Parade - 9AM

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Office

Jed and I started watching The Office, season one, episodes one and two last night.  I believe it ran nine seasons.  We started watching sporadically around season seven maybe.  We didn't have cable when the show started and weren't as well versed on how to watch TV on the internet (maybe it wasn't even possible way back then).  Of course, we've seen random episodes here and there from different seasons of the show, but we haven't seen the entire series in its entirety like the rest of America.

Can I just say this, 9 years too late... it's so cute to see Pam and Jim at the beginning.  Especially since in season 9 Pam foresees all these marital issues and is worried that Jim is falling out of love with her, etc.  So it's super cute to see how head over heels Jim is for Pam at the beginning. And all along. 

It reminded me of something my sister told me a few weeks before Jed and I got engaged.  She told me how she noticed that Jed looked at me with total love and adoration.  Something that I couldn't see, I mean, I knew we were in love, but you never really just notice how in love someone is with you, right?  My sister told me how lucky I was to find someone who looked at me like that.  I am lucky.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Train GPS

Several years ago Jed's sister's family nicknamed Buddy "GPS" because they were driving him around in their car and he was directing them to our house.  Buddy has Jed's sense of direction, love of maps, and pays attention to where things are when we are driving around town.  We realized the other day that Squirt has "train GPS."  He can now recognize when our car is going in the direction that will cross over train tracks.  It used to just be that he spotted the tracks, or the railway crossing signs, but not he can actually remember where we are and where the train tracks are.  He starts yelling, "CHOO CHOO TRAIN TRACKS" at a very loud level of excitement.

Sunday, on the way to church, as we approached the tracks we had to stop for a train so I snapped this picture of the kids.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?

Before lunch is school/learning oriented:

finish up their virtual school courses to 100% completion
typing cd-rom
piano practice (PS)
Cub Scouts (Buddy)
Girl Scouts (PS)
Journal/letter writing
Handwriting practice
Library book reading
Clean rooms
Pack up toys (to stay/to China)
Learn Chinese

After lunch is mostly directed free time:

Go to the pool with Grandma.
Bike rides
Outdoor play (soccer, kickball, catch, sidewalk chalk)
jobs (Little Guy and Buddy - watering for G'ma)
Khan Academy coding (Princess Sparkley)
mini fieldtrips

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The end of our virtual school year

While we've been in Ohio this past year, the kids have been enrolled in an online based virtual school.  I love the curriculum (K12) but the requirements that go with it being a public school were time consuming and annoying.  I wouldn't do it again.  At least not in Ohio.  When we were part of a virtual school in Kansas (also using K12), it was much different. 

That being said, I am now embarking on the grand adventure of hunting down all the items that we need to ship back (free of charge).  I've already taken seven large, heavy boxes to the UPS store.  There are at least 6 more to go.  And I have no idea where the boxes that the kids' computer monitors arrived in went so I have to hunt down new boxes.  This was all much more exciting when we were opening boxes and unloading new stuff.  Now I'm constantly sending the kids to look for a graduated cylinder, a random book, a magnifying glass, etc.

And when it's all packed away and shipped off... we can start cleaning and organizing the kids' rooms and stuff which will lead to all sorts of planning, organizing and packing for China.  It's getting closer!  Ahhh!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Update on our move to Beijing

It's really happening... we're moving to Beijing, China.  We are now in possession of six passports (6 Visas are in the work).  We've received notice that we'll be getting a 4 (!!!) bedroom apartment on the campus of the school where Jed is going to be teaching economics.  We just bought a bunch of stuff (crib, crib mattress, shelves, Thomas the Tank Engine set, etc.) from the family who is vacating said apartment.  We bought our airplane tickets (LAX>SFO>PEK).  We're mapped out our drive from Ohio to California.  We've bought some suitcases at garage sales.  We've made lots of lists of stuff to take. We keep talking about a practice pack to see if we can fit everything. 

Are we fluent in Chinese?  No.  Do we know a few words?  Yes.  Does Jed plan on making us listen to Chinese language cds for the entire 11 day drive to California.  Yes.  Will be fluent in Mandarin by the time we land in Beijing?  Probably not.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Summer To Do List

Jed is opposed to the term "Bucket List," so this is our summer "to do list."

City pool
Strawberry Festival
3 mile Cub Scout pack hike
Farmer's Market (to hunt down the best Amish pecan pie ever that I had last year)
Farmer's Market in a different town
BK's for hot dogs and root beer floats
Bike ride on canal path
Arboretum (Cub Scout and Girl Scout tree recognition patch/badge)
Finish Wil-bear Aviation site visits (Nat'l Parks related to the Wrights award)
July 4th trip to Pittsburgh for Great Grandpa's birthday celebration (?)
Learn Chinese
Visit birds at local nature center
 Work on Cub Scouts and Girl
Kids: record on Goodreads all the books they've read since moving to Ohio*
Journal writing (for handwriting practice)
Little Guy - learn to tie shoes
Princess Sparkley - make popsicles
x and / flash cards for PS and Buddy
Cincinnati Zoo (?) (new African Wild Dogs exhibit)
Drive to California**
Move to Beijing ***

*We've kept a list, we just failed miserably at putting it all on Goodreads for them.
**California drive to do list coming soon.
***Beijing move/life to do list coming soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Introducing Squirt to Baseball

So, our family has recently become pretty obsessed with soccer, but we're still baseball lovers at heart.  We never made it to a Major League Baseball game last season, just a Minor League Potomac Nationals Game and a few MLB games when I was still pregnant with Squirt.  This season, we're not near a team we love, but we took in a nice Star Wars themed fireworks show for Buddy's birthday after the Cinncinati Reds game earlier this month and Squirt thoroughly enjoyed the game.  Well, at least he really enjoyed seeing giant baseballs and such.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Big Change

When we moved to Ohio 6 months ago we knew it would be temporary.  Jed would write his dissertation, we'd apply for teaching jobs and we'd go where the job offers took us.  Then Jed heard about a teaching position in China.  He applied.  I decided not to worry about it.  Then he got an interview.  I figured I still didn't need to worry about it. They offered him a job (but we didn't get the notice until two weeks after the initial offer was extended due to the school typing Jed's name wrong in his email address).  We had to decide fast.  And the decision... we're moving to China!  For two years, starting this August we'll be living in Beijing, the capital of China.  According to Buddy, one of the Pros of this move is that Beijing is like the New York City of China.  Unfortunately that just makes me more nervous.  I teeter totter between panic and excitement then remember we have nearly 6 months to figure it all out.  It'll definitely be an adventure, right?! :)

Here's Buddy's list of Pros:

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I'm happy with the types of eaters our kids have become.  We now have three kids who will eat salad!!  This is a huge accomplishment. And two who actually like it (Buddy and Little Guy).  Kid number four only has 10 teeth so I'm not pushing salad on him yet.  Growing up I had a best friend who would sneak food and eat it in her room leaving wrappers all over the place so her parents wouldn't see them.  I'm not talking teenage/eating disorder stuff, I'm talking when we were little kids and it was fun snacks/Halloween candy.  This always bugged me.  We definitely had struggles with getting our kids to eat what we wanted them to eat, but they've always been okay eaters.  Each with their own distinct preferences.  (Little Guy hates beans and cheerios but loves fruits and veggies.  Princess Sparkley is not a big fruit eater, hates tomatoes, and will now eat lettuce and carrots.  Buddy LOVES fruit but isn't a huge fan of tomato sauces.  They all initially hated soups and casseroles but have come around to liking them.) I didn't make them separate meals and I didn't force them to eat what the adults were eating if they didn't/wouldn't like it.  We adjusted our meals down to little kid taste buds.  If the adults were having tacos, the kids had quesadillas.  If the adults were having a pasta dish, the kids had plain noodles and cheese.  It worked for us, and in the long run, I'm happy with where we are now that the older kids are 11, 9 and 6.  Plus, they don't sneak food.  They always ask if they can have something and this isn't anything that I ever really required, they've just always done it.  I love parenting good kids!

Thursday, February 06, 2014


One of the youth activities at church when I was a teen was having a man from the congregation teach us how to speed read.  I was never very good at it but the idea has always intrigued me.  I once read Charley by Jack Weyland twice in a day so I could time myself the second time to figure out how many pages I could read in an hour.  I think it was about 100, but it's been a long time.

I just took this fun test:

Thursday, January 09, 2014

To Read

This isn't looking good. I asked for book recommendations on Facebook the other day since I finished the stack I got from the library to read over the Christmas break and I'm still avoiding Mansfield Park (which I've been reading on the Kindle since I was pregnant with Squirt).  Then I requested several from the library.  They all arrived at once and today I get to go pick up these:

Favorite Pinterest Recipes

I created a board on Pinterest of our family's favorite Pinterest/online recipes.  So far, it's only main dishes but I thought I'd share it here since it's been a long time since I've shared our weekly menu.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

My Top Books of 2013

I slacked off a lot in my 2013 reading.  My goal was 75 books.  Then I thought maybe I could get to 50.  And in trying to get to 50, I failed to note that if I'd read my 2014 book #2 book, The Boy on the Porch (151 pages) first, rather than my 2014  book #1 My Life Next Door (394 pages), I would have broken 15,000 pages for the year. And I'd have hit 49 books rather than just 48.  Instead, my totals for 2013 were 14,830 pages in 48 books.

My favorite books of the year in no particular order:

Book 3 in a series.

A few instances of swearing, including the f-word.  Main narrator is a prisoner of war during WWII.

Swearing including instances of the f-word.

Book 7 (and the final book) in a series.

 A handful of f-word, instances of drugs, drinking, a non-descriptive extramarital affair.

The second in a series (sort of a companion book told from the boy's point of view.  The first book, Just One Day is told from the girl's point of view).  Teen sex, drinking, light drugs and language (all mildly descriptive).

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
 Teen drinking (but he's British and 18 so technically it's legal).

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Every few years I post some resolutions for the New Year.  I don't think I did that for 2013 and am too lazy to check, but I'd like to for 2014.  Here's what I have so far:

Create 2013 Blurb book of family blog.
Create 2005 and 2004 Blurb books.
Be able to run/jog/walk a 5K.*
Get in a blogging mindset enabling me to blog more.
Stick to a better diet.**
Read at least 15,000 pages in at least 50 books (trying to cover a lot of genres).
Write/ work on writing.

*I'm not requiring that I actually participate in one, but I'm not completely opposed to that idea at this point.

**We've cut back on how much meat we eat, especially red meat.  We're only supposed to have dessert over the weekend, family night and special occasions.  We need to stick to that... especially after this holiday period of time.


So... we jumped on the How I Met Your Mother bandwagon way late.  I'd heard it was a good show, but by the time I heard that, I'd missed several episodes/seasons (I'm not sure) and I hate that... starting in the middle.  We have cable while we're living in Ohio so we caught a few episodes and then got seasons 1 and 2 from the library.  Meanwhile, we've also been watching them (and DVRing them).  As of right now, we have about 20 episodes recorded waiting for us.  The problem with this... we're seeing the show in a crazy order.  Oh well, it literally makes me LOL.  And I'm totally loving Neil Patrick Harris in this...super impressed with his acting.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blog bloggity blog

I realized the other day that the biggest problem with my blogging (aside from having no time) is that I used to think in a blogging mindset and I've stopped.  My blogging mindset was living my life but constantly writing little blog posts in my mind about whatever was happening or whatever random thought I was currently having.  And maybe one of those made it to the blog.  But then I stopped thinking in that mindset and the blog posts stopped.  So, one of my resolutions for the New Year it to start thinking in a blogging mindset again in 2014. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Farewell red stripey socks... you've been my favorite for awhile.

I've started getting holes in the bottoms of some of my favorite socks.  Well, more truthfully, I've had holes in some of them for awhile and am just getting around to dealing with it.  It's sad to throw socks away.  I just threw a pair away yesterday that my parents bought for me at the L.L. Bean headquarters in Maine in 1996.  I was supposed to be on that New England trip with them but was accepted to BYU only if I started in the summer.  There went my trip.  I got a warm pair of socks out of it though.  For the most part, socks are the things in my wardrobe that have been around the longest.  I feel like I need to photograph each pair before I say goodbye.  That doesn't make a me a hoarder.  Right?  Right!?  At least I AM throwing them away.  Farewell red stripey socks... you've been my favorite for awhile.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I'm sad that it's been so long since I've written a blog post.  But even sitting here, feeling like I should post something, there's nothing to say.  There's no need to share recipes or pictures because I'm not even nearly as good as all the other food bloggers out there, and I'm definitely not a food/photo or photo anything blogger.  We recently went to a family holiday dinner in Pittsburgh where one of Jed's uncles asked me how I spent my time and for the first time in a long time, I had nothing interesting to say.  Being a stay at home mom, and homeschooler is never boring nor is it luxurious and exciting to talk about.  But until now, I've at least had other stuff going on in my life.  Now I feel like I'm spending my days running from kid to kid helping them finish up their school work, and when I'm not helping them it's cleaning/picking up, doing laundry and cooking meals.  I barely have time to do the boring mundane tasks like grocery shopping.  Add to my boring life the introduction of Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter and an already dying art (can blogging be called an art?!) continues down that path.  So, until I have exciting thoughts, ideas, recipes, stories to share, this might be the last you hear from me in awhile.  So sad...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How I'm Spending My Time

Baseball playoffs (watching Red Sox, Pirates and Dodger games)

The Red Sox in the World Series (winning game one 8 to 1 - woo hoo!)

Duck Dynasty
     Seriously... we watched an episode a few weeks ago to see what all the fuss (at Walmart) was about.  It's hilarious!!

Other TV shows: Revenge, Bones, Elementary, the final season of What Not to Wear, Junior MasterChef

Book reading... because I'm way behind and I keep requesting books from the library

Virtual school for the kids.

I'm a Webelo Scout leader.

Running/managing/caring for a family of 6 (laundry, clean up, meals, etc.)

Exercise (walk/jog/bike)

Christmas shopping/craft planning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweet Caroline... dah dah dah

Cheering on my Red Sox!  Game 1 of the 2013 World Series won.  Check.


I need a new picture of me in my hat.  This is August at Assateague Island State Park.

Squirt with all the Wallys during the play offs.

Blog Title from here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Year of Monkeys

Every month starting with 3 days and ending with 12 months.

Every Friday (and every month on the 17th- the day he was born) starting with 3 days.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Favorite Season

Fall and spring are probably my favorite seasons now that I'm not living in season-less southern California.  And if it wasn't for the dread of the oncoming winter, I'd probably say fall wins.  But I have such a hard time enjoying fall because there's nothing to look forward to.  Well... there's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, soup season, etc.  But cold.  All of it cold.  At least in the spring I can look forward to a relaxing summer and try to forget how horribly hot it will be and how we won't be able to do any outdoor activities due to heat, humidity and mosquitoes.  So... even though the temperature is dropping, I'm not as happy about it as I wish I was because I know the temperature is just going to keep dropping ... and then the snow will fall.  Bleh.

What's your favorite season?  Least favorite season?

Monday, September 16, 2013


While my reading has been suffering this year, it hasn't been as bad as the list on my sidebar had been suggesting. Due to my laziness about updates, it's been stuck at 3 books read in 2013 when in actuality, I'm up to 31.  I just added the past 28 books I've read this year in case you are actually paying attention.

Favorites among them:

Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abagnale
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
Maisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (lots of swearing!)
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (lots of swearing!)
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Colors for Zena

Since I've mentioned a few of her books on the blog (here and here), I was contacted by Monica Wellington to see if I'd be interested in a copy of her new book to review.  It actually arrived in Ohio before we did!  If you are a regular, you know I love books.  You also know I have kids, love kids' books, and I homeschool our kids.

Ms. Wellington's other books that I am most familiar with involve food.  The focus of this one is colors as a little girl, Zena, goes on a walk and both discovers colors and new friends and creates new colors.

I love the book Dog's Colorful Day (mentioned in this birthday part post)Colors for Zena has a similar feel to it but starring a girl, and targeting a little older of an audience with the introduction of not just colors, but also the colors that can be created when you mix two other colors together. 

I love the artwork.  I tend to be attracted to picture books with much simpler artistic renderings.  I also love Wellington's use of colors.  The book starts in almost all black, white and gray and as she encounters a new color (example: yellow) that page is filled with yellow scenes.  Turning the page you meet red.  And even some polka dots on Zena's outfit (and dog!) change to the new color.  By the end of the book her outfit and dog are covered in polka dots of all the colors and she's created a colorful painting with her new friends: an orange lion, a green frog, and a purple dragon.  And at the very end, after the story has ended, there's a brief explanation and drawing of a color wheel, and some suggested activities that can be done with color.

A very cute book that any young child (or book loving adult) would enjoy to visit over and over again.  You can find it here and read more about it on Ms. Wellington's blog here.  Now that I've looked over some of the other books she's written, I think I'll be checking those out as well. 

Mumford and Sons

I'm adding to my concerts list.

We arrived in Ohio Friday night, August 23.  We have a rather long drive to church (just under half an hour) and we drive through Troy, Ohio.  Princess Sparkley pointed out that there was a banner/sign that said welcome Mumford and Sons.  So when we got home, we looked into it.  Troy, Ohio was one of 4 (I think) small towns chosen to host them as part of a two day summer tour called Gentlemen of the Road.  The town expected 35,000 people which more than doubled the population of Troy.  We didn't bother with tickets but figured since the concert was at the high school football stadium we could find somewhere nearby to listen.  And we did.  It was awesome.  We just couldn't see them.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


In Ohio, we live just outside the city limit of a town of 25,000.  It's actually a really cool small town.  The downtown area is filled with still functioning shops and businesses, unlike a lot of small town America we've driven through. There are all sorts of events, festivals, etc.  The big city for our area is less than 30 minutes away.  I don't have a Target in town (it's about 15 minutes away) but I do have a Walmart.  And a Sonic.  And a Jimmy Johns. 

Today we drove a few cities away to an apple festival and had two of the yummiest things ever.

1) Homemade by the Amish pecan pie.  I'm already making plans to frequent this city's farmer's market each Friday in hopes that this same Amish seller will be there again.  And I don't even like pecan pie.  I only like my brother-in-law's mom's recipe.  Jed's been buying pecan pies from grocery stores for years and I'm never even tempted by them and I have an unbelievably large sweet tooth.  This pie... Mmmmm.  Plus a cute Amish baby in little overalls.

2) Bottled root beer from a small business that frequents festivals like this.  It's called Fent's and it's based out of Springfield, OH.  There's just something about drinking root beer out of a bottle.  Reminds me of college and Henry Weinhard's root beer.  Mmmm.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I think this is probably the longest lapse in blogging I've had since the blog began so many years ago. And a lot has happened. 

We're now residents of Ohio. We packed up everything we own and it magically fit onto the largest Penske truck you can rent (which it barely did when we moved in 2009 and in 2005 and we've only gained kids and stuff) and we moved to Ohio. I believe we are in western Ohio but my Ohio geography is still rather sub-par. 

Today was the first day of school for our kids and I'm realizing how ridiculous my earlier plan was. I'm not sure I'm going to have time to shower, let alone do anything else all day.

The boys (Buddy and Little Guy) are all settled into their room. It's actually the only room completely unpacked (except the giant Lego box in their closet). Princess Sparkley and Squirt are set up in her room but with a few glitches for being all the way finished. PS's loft bed needs a slight adjustment to the ladder so the box of it is on the floor which means her desk and cube storage system aren't under it so the bookshelf can't be where it's supposed to be so she's still living among half unpacked boxes bugging us to let her alphabetize the books on her shelf (even if it's casually leaning against the dresser in the middle of the room). Our living/school room is coming together nicely.  I just got the table cleared off so we can set up all the school supplies.  I'm not thinking about all our boxes of food and kitchen stuff yet.  Nor am I thinking about the garage that still has all the stuff we need to store away in the basement.  We'll get there.  And then it'll be time to pack up and move again. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Plan

I have these great visions of the next year.  Jed furiously writing his dissertation, the kids being extremely occupied with the homeschool curriculum we've signed them up for and me having all sort so free time with which to read, write and blog.  Let's all cross our fingers that this is how things roll.  Okay?  Pretty please.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yellow Bird on the Move Again

I reserved our truck this week.  It's official.  Jed's super nice parents offered to let us live with them for one year in Ohio while Jed finishes his dissertation.  This way he can be done with it and not have to worry about juggling it and work/commute/stress.  And then we're done.  And hopefully this time next year he'll have an official teaching position somewhere and the Yellow Bird will be moving once more.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Foreign To Do List

I'm beginning to think that I was too young, inexperienced, and whatever the opposite of well-read would be, to have enjoyed Europe as much as I should have.  Not that I didn't enjoy it, but there are so many more things I wish I had seen, done or eaten while I was over there.

I went did a study abroad program through BYU to London in the spring of 1999 focusing on Shakespeare and theatre.  While there I visited Scotland and on the way home I spent two weeks making my way through Spain, Switzerland and France. 

I just recently learned about macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) and now I've decided I need to start a list of stuff to do in Europe if I ever go back.  Here goes:

Eat macarons in France.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Because I love lists and I love baseball...

Baseball Stadiums I've been to:
Fenway Park
 Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Kauffman Stadium
Angel Stadium of Anaheim
 Nationals Park
Great American Ball Park
Busch Stadium
Coors Field
Dodger Stadium
Jack Murphy Stadium (no longer home of the Padres)

 Ballparks I've driven past:
Yankee Stadium
O.Co Coliseum
PNC Park
U.S. Cellular Field
Citi Field
Citizens Bank Park
Wrigley Field

Baseball teams I've seen play: (missing a bunch I just can't remember)
Red Sox
Blue Jays


Friday, May 31, 2013


I can never find a baby book I like and having been the third child in my own family, whose baby book only lists a few things past gifts received at a baby shower, I try to be good about keeping up the baby books. I got a coupon from Target for a free 8x8 20 page Shutterfly book and thought I'd put it to use and create a baby book for Squirt. Then I dug out the calendar for dates of things in his life and realized I've done a poor job this year keeping track on my physical calendar and my Google calendar. Most everything is only on the Google Calendar. I need to fix that because at the end of the year, I "file" away the calendar as a "journal." I also realized I haven't updated height and weights for any of the other kids in probably years in their baby books. And I had to dig out their baby books as a reference for what I'd want in Squirt's, so I might as well update theirs. Now I find myself buried in a pile of file folders with doctor's records and other unrelated stuff associated with each kid, baby books, pictures that need to be filed away, calendars, etc. I've dug myself into a deep deep hole that I may never surface from.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 17

I saw this recipe on Pinterest for Swig Sugar Cookies.  They are supposedly a copycat recipe for a place in St. George, Utah. The pin described them as "Literally the Best Cookie Known to Man."  So of course, I had to try them.  Here's my biggest problem with this cookie, it's really more of a shortbread cookie than a sugar cookie.  If you go into a bite expecting sugar cookie and get shortbread, it's a bit of a shock.  I like shortbread cookies, but they're very different than a sugar cookie.  I didn't love them, or the sour cream frosting, but that didn't keep me from eating a bunch.  The kids loved them.  Jed gave them two stars and a "would not eat again" status.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spoon Rest

I had a brilliant epiphany last night that puts all of my past baking years to shame.  Growing up, we always had a spoon rest next to the stove.  That's where my spoon rest is.  When I bake, I'm always scrambling for somewhere to put the scraper/spatula after I've used it in the mixing bowl and it usually ends up in the bowl I softened the butter in or on a scrap of paper towel, or just on the counter.  Last night, I realized I could use the spoon rest in this capacity.  How had I never figured this out before!?!?!?  Do you ever have "DUH!" moments while you're in the kitchen.


It's long over due... Mystery Baby's new blog name is...


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Goals

In addition to our family's goals of things to check off our D.C./East Coast to do list, I have a lot of school/learning things I want the kids to accomplish this summer.

Every summer we keep up with reading, journal writing and math because I don't want to reteach it all again in the fall.  Last summer's fun focus was United States geography. I wanted the kids to learn all their states and capitals.  We did okay.

This summer, I would like to focus on:

Science projects and experiments

Art (I have little artistic talent and need to find someone who can teach my kids things like shading, etc.)

Story writing


Some of these are things that fall by the wayside during the school year.  We studied a lot of science, but didn't have as much time to delve into big projects.  They draw all the time, but I'm not the person to teach them art.  They write stories, etc. but I want to actually critique them and help make them awesome.  And Spanish... it just always gets forgotten.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

DC/Virginia Checked Off List

Here's what we've done while living in Metro DC.  We didn't really have a To Do List when we moved here, but this is what we've accomplished so far.  I'm sure I'm leaving a bunch off too.

Rode the Metro
Air and Space Museum on the mall
National Museum of the American Indian
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery of Art
Sculpture Garden
Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park
National Zoo (several times)
US Botanic Garden
US Capitol
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
National Archives
National Museum of American History
Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Constitution Garden Pond
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
World War II Memorial
American Art Museum
National Building Museum
The Ellipse
National Christmas Tree
Cherry Blossoms
George Mason Memorial
Korean War Veteran's Memorial

Air and Space Museum at Dulles (multiple times)
Mount Vernon
Clemyjontri Park
Great Falls National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Arlington National Cemetery
Iwo Jima Memorial
George Washington's Birthplace
Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Stonewall Jackson's Shrine
Manassas National Battlefield
Virginia Capitol (Richmond)
Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Delaware State Capitol (Dover, DE)
Lewes Ferry

National Aquarium in Baltimore
Fort McHenry (Baltimore)
Orioles baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Maryland State Capitol (Annapolis, MD)

Rita's Water Ice
Redding Terminal
Valley Forge National Park
Independence Hall
Liberty Bell Center
Betsy Ross's house
Franklin Institute
Franklin Court
Ate a Philly Cheesesteak at Geno's

To Do in D.C. List

Our time in the Washington D.C. area could be nearing an end as Jed finishes up his doctoral degree (classes are done, he's working on getting his dissertation approved and from there, we can move anywhere).  We've done a ton, but we've slacked off in our sight seeing while I was pregnant with Mystery Baby and after he was born.  Here's our family's list so far... I'll keep adding to it (and take suggestions - local people, hint hint).

The List

Touch the Atlantic Ocean 8/8/13
Eat Philly cheesesteaks at Gino's or Pat's in Philadelphia.4/2013
New York City 5/2013
Camping trip8/8/13-8/9/13
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Visit the top of the Washington Monument (dependent on it reopening)
Tour White House (stinkin' sequester) *
Eat crab cakes near Chesapeake Bay 8/9/13
Tour Nationals Ballpark
Georgetown Cupcakes **
Family picture in D.C. ***
Albert Einstein statue 7/25/13
D.C. United game
Cumberland bike trail 7/20/13
Renwick Gallery 7/25/13
Lighthouse 8/9/13
National Cathedral 8/17/13

Amish country in Pennsylvania 5/2013
Maryland High Point 7/20/13
Finish the Junior Ranger program for the National Mall 7/25/13
Picture of the Lincoln Memorial 7/25/13
See The Preamble in license plates at the Museum of American Art 7/25/13
Chesapeake Bay Bridge (again) 8/9/13

*We got better pictures of the outside than we have before and since it's closed, that's about all we could do.

**Drove past it and saw the line on the way to the National Cathedral but it was Squirt's bday and we already had a giant cake ready and waiting at home and no one wanted to park and wait in line.  Someday...

***My plan was a picture with the Washington Monument in the background and it's covered in scaffolding!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Anytime Gift List

I was thinking up little, inexpensive things the kids could get me for Mother's Day earlier this week and decided I should type up a list so I don't forget some of my good ideas.

a microwavable syrup pitcher (maybe a creamer pitcher)
vanilla scented lotion
The Parent Trap dvd (Lindsay Lohan and Hayley Mills versions)
stackable rings with the kids' names on them
titanium or platinum earrings
decorative globes
salad shooter
hand stamped necklace
spatulas (or, as Pampered Chef calls them to differentiate between spatulas and spatulas, scrapers)
cake stand with dome lid

Thursday, May 02, 2013


If you know me, it will be no surprise to you that I avoid confrontation at all costs.  Even non-confrontational confrontations.  Even social media confrontations, which are a bit safer since you aren't face to face with the person, and might not even know them.  I'm a bit braver online than in person, but not much. 

Today I read this article: An 18 year old honor student and Eagle Scout, weeks shy of graduation was expelled and charged with a felony for accidentally leaving his gun (from a previous days' hunting trip) in his truck.  He realized his mistake and was calling his mom to come get it when an school official overheard, he explained himself (honesty and responsibly) and has been expelled and charged with a felony. 

Granted, this specific article was written on a pro-gun website, but the story seems pretty straight forward.  A Facebook friend "shared" the story and her first commenter, a person I don't know said, "This happened at my high school. His expulsion was reversed. But that was years before 9/11. They do have these rules for a valid reason. And it must be the same for everyone unfortunately :-/"

Seriously.  SERIOUSLY.  People who accidentally forget they have a gun in their car from going hunting with friends the other day should have their lives ruined just the same as people who came to school with a gun on purpose with a plan to use it?!!??!   

I didn't say all that to the friend of a friend.  I just asked if she'd actually read the article.  It seems hard to believe anyone would have that opinion about ruining an 18 year old's future for a simple mistake that he was trying to take care of.  Had he just left the gun alone in his truck all day, no one would have even found out.  


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sneaky Tasks

Does stuff sneak up on you that you've totally forgotten you are supposed to be busily working on?  I'm talking big things, not the realization that you have no idea when the last time you washed anyone's sheets was.  And not the item on your to do list that is always on your to do list. Jed reminded me a few weeks ago that his Sunday activity is supposed to be Family History and mine is supposed to be converting our family blog into Blurb books.  It's April and I'd completely forgotten.  I haven't even thought about start the 2012 Blurb book once 2012 ended. In almost 5 months I it hasn't once crossed my mind. 

Soccer season has started which means that when I thought I was busy before... yeah, I'm busier.  In fact, I've spent the last few weeks wondering how people keep their house clean while living life.  I realize that homeschooling changes the dynamics of our family and our busyness, but it's seriously been a struggle these past few weeks to fit in school and cleaning and various appointments and projects.  And yes, I should utilize the kids but they barely have time to do anything either.  I think we all need a good course on time management.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Human Kindness

After the September 11th attacks in 2001 and Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping the following year, I spent hours watching the news on television.  I was addicted.  This time around, with the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, I no longer have cable, and I do have little kids with little eyes and ears that I don't want exposed to all of this.  Instead of watching the news, I'm reading various news websites and various news articles.  This article I found especially sweet:


Especially this paragraph:
Like many local bars, diners, and coffee shops in many other towns rocked by calamity, Czech Stop has transformed virtually overnight into a hub of refuge. After December's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the owners of Blue Colony Diner fed hundreds of volunteers, policemen, firefighters, and first responders, earning the nickname "The Food Angels." The morning after Hurricane Sandy struck, David T. Holmes III turned It's a Wrap, his lunch cafe in Plainfield, New Jersey, into a relief station for 10 days, offering victims free coffee, soup, power, and a place to sleep. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Joann Guidos kept Kajun's Pub open so that "the lonely and broke would not endure the ordeal alone." Homeowners fleeing the deadly June 2012 wildfires in Colorado congregated at Bob's Coffee Shop in Laporte, to figure out, over danishes, where the megafire was headed next.

I didn't see where it specified that Czech Stop is doing everything for free; it did mention donations though.  But this paragraph does specifically mention the place in New Jersey that offered free coffee, soup, power and a place to sleep for ten days following Hurricane Sandy. I find that remarkable and just so kind.  In a world that has become all about money, for people to not use these disasters as a way to make big money, but as a way to help.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My "Strike It Rich" List

This is my "strike it rich" list, or my "you just won the lottery!" list.  All the pretty expensive stuff I want, but don't need, that I'd buy if I had lots of extra money.  I'm sure I'll keep adding to this list as I think of things, but for now:

a nice camera
a mixer that can handle 10 cups of flour in a cinnamon roll recipe.

fog and bubble machine
portable fire pit
New frying pans in a variety of sizes

Monday, April 01, 2013


Several years ago I went with my mom to visit one of her friends at a home they'd bought and renovated near my parents' home.  This woman gave us the tour of her new kitchen complete with a two drawer dishwasher that was separate so when it was just she and her husband they could run one drawer of the dishwasher rather than a full load.  I loved the idea.  Now, I dream of the day when that can happen.  My current state, I'm going to have to start handwashing some stuff if I don't want to run the dishwasher more than once a day. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Calming Down the Holidays

I'm just as guilty as Princess Sparkley when it comes to wanting to go overboard with holidays.  All holidays.  The difference is that I have limits.  And I know what are our actual traditions vs. what she thinks are our traditions.  Some how, this year, the kids all made leprechaun traps (they did last year as well) on their own and expected leprechauns and candy.  Because it was a tradition.  But it actually isn't.  Jed was nice and drew them all a leprechaun that their traps caught.  But all I did was make sure we all wore green and we had Irish pasties (hand pies) *for dinner (because I refuse to make/eat corned beef).

That being said, this article struck a chord: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/can-we-bring-the-holidays_b_2903040.html

And now with Easter approaching, I'm hoping we can keep things calm, simple and Christ-centered.  Here are some ideas for Easter that hopefully keep it focuses not on the Easter bunny, but also don't make it even busier than it needs to be.

Our hometeacher from church shared these Easter eggs scriptures with us last night (Thanks, Alanna!).

Similar to this idea.


This book about focusing on Christ for Easter looks neat.

And we've been celebrating Passover following the guidelines in this book for several years now.

*Alexia Oven Reds are DELICIOUS!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Grocery Shopping

A few years ago, we instituted legal and illegal family shopping days for the family in an effort to save money.  We've since abandoned that plan and then taken it a step further.  We're allowed to shop one day a week.  One BIG grocery trip in which my cart (and poor Mystery Baby) look like this. 

There are several downsides to this:
1. My cart is overflowing, sometimes requiring I use a second cart. :\
2. I have to be super organized about my week's menu.
3. I forget something, or it is out of stock and I have to make a tiny trip during the week.
4. It takes forever to get all this stuff.
5. It also takes forever to check out.
6. It's making me want to make multiple, shopping list specific trips.*
7. We run out of milk and bread each weekend.
8. Produce doesn't tend to last a week.

1. It's one trip a week and then it's done.  Usually.
2. It's easy to stick to a budget when all the shopping is happening right then.
3. Saving on gas.
4. Saving on those little extra purchases we'd be making on each grocery trip.

We've recently decided there needs to be a second shopping trip with summer nearing and us planning eating a lot more fruits and veggies. 

*A grocery trip.  A food storage trip.  And a household items trip.

Friday, March 08, 2013

New favorite thing

Read about it here.
Natural.  No High Fructose Corn Syrup.  And so yummy.  Even my kids will eat it .  (They're weird and prefer grape jelly.  Bleh.) This is the next best thing to homemade freezer jam or this mail-order jam from Bithell Farms that my mom gets.
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