"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 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Friday, August 31, 2007

Overscheduling

I've never wanted to be someone who overschedules. Truth be told, I'm sort of lazy. But I am excited to get to the point with my kids where they have fun stuff to do, rather than just me entertaining them all day. So I sign them up for the dance classes, tumbling classes, art classes, swim lessons, etc. Only one at a time though.

But add to that music class at the church every Friday morning. Storytime at the library every Tuesday morning (granted we haven't been in months, but we used to be regulars). Throw in a homeschooled kindergartener (so while everyone else with a kid her age that I'm friends with just had their lives get simplified, mine got much much more filled). Add on a 3 year old who has a parent co-op preschool (ie: I teach it twice a month). Toss in the fact that I've volunteered to watch a friend's one year old for a few hours one day a month. I have a busier calling at church as Primary secretary. My husband is currently without a bike so we have to wake up to drive him to school and then drive him to work in the middle of the day. I'm in charge of not one, but two book clubs, one locally, one online. I'm pregnant, thus have a doctor's appointment each month. I just signed my daughter up for dance lessons once a week as her birthday present from my parents. AND I'm crazy enough to think I should find something fun like that for my son to do as well. What have I done with my life of lying around, lazily reading all day?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A baguette


While at BYU I spent a semester, really only a term (Spring 1999) in London with the BYU Study Abroad London Theatre group. It was fantastic. We (Angela and I) sort of did the "pretend we're living in London" thing more than the "we're American tourists that have to cram seeing fifty sites into each day." I always fantasized about carrying home a paper grocery bag with a single baguette in it (even though this seems much more France than England). Nor do I think I ever bought a baguette while there. But today I was carrying in my groceries, and sticking out of the top of my brown paper bag was a baguette. It instantly made me feel sophisticated and foreign, like that one single baguette in my grocery bag could make me feel like I live in a huge city in a foreign country with a bakery around the corner where I always buy a baguette after of course purchasing fresh flowers from the flower vendor near the entrance to the tube. It was sort of a fun daydream that carried me away for a moment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

As a fund raiser, the young women in our ward (church unit) had what they call a service auction. They donate services like babysitting, house cleaning, family night treats, and there is a silent auction to bid on their items. They also include ward members services (ie: car tune up, yard work, Mr. Fix-It at your house, lawn mowing, math tutoring, family picture, dinner with a family, family drawing from picture, etc.) along with items that have been made (ie: baked goods, quilts, etc.)

For the service auction we had in April I auctioned off the following:
Every time I make a dessert, I'll bring some to you (an average of once a month).

So as I get ready to make a pie for the people who won/bought my "service," I thought I'd share the recipe with you since it is usually such a big hit.

Once again, it's a Pampered Chef recipe... sorry, I love their recipes.

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie
Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust (from 15 oz. pkg.), softened as directed on package
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 container (12 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Gently unroll crust onto lightly floured surface. Roll to an 11 1/2 inch circle. Place crust in pie pan pressing dough into bottom and up sides. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven; cool completely.

Reserve 1 TBSP of the chocolate chips for garnish. Place remaining chocolate chips in microwavable dish, microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute, stirring every 10 seconds, until melted and smooth. Do not over heat. Spread chocolate over bottom of pie crust and up sides 1 inch.

Set aside 1 cup of Cool Whip.

Whisk cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add in milk until well blended. Add pudding mix all at once and cinnamon; whisk until smooth. The mixture will be very thick. Fold in remaining Cool Whip (left after setting aside one cup). Spoon filling into pie crust.

Grate reserved chocolate chips over top of pie. Pipe a decorative border around the edges of the pie using an open star tip on the Easy Accent Decorator (or some other icing/frosting device). Sprinkle with additional cinnamon (optional). Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Yield: 12 servings

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

http://www.indexstock.com

I'm slightly obsessed with names. I would guess it goes back to the fact that I've never liked my name.

My husband and I have all of our girls names. Strange, I know. But we've never had a hard time agreeing on girl names. As for boy names. We have one boy, and one boy name that we agreed upon. We have others that are in the running, but I'm still not sold. If my husband had his way, our next two boys would be Hyrum and Moses. Hmm. Not really my picks. So as we're approaching the point in my pregnancy where we find out if we are having a baby boy or a baby girl (or one of each as my children have predicted), it's on my mind a lot.

Today my husband forwarded me this link. You should check it out. You can see that the name Nancy peaked in the 1940s. It's an awesome graph of every name you can imagine. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My son is a genius

When my son was almost two years old and not talking, everyone kept telling me about really smart people who were late talkers. It's been confirmed that our now nearly 3 1/2 (nonstop talking) son is a genius. Thanks to this game:




It's really actually quite incredible to watch him solve these puzzles. Our 5 year old daughter can do some, but it takes her a lot longer and she needs a few hints here and there. Our son solves them super quickly. He loves it. Now all I have to do is track down an old Rubik Cube and see just how much of a genius he really is.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Urine Sample


I avoid going to the doctor, except when I'm pregnant. So I'm not sure how often a urine sample is required of a normal patient. When you are pregnant, you are required to give a urine sample on each visit.

I have two dilemmas. First, I always have to go to the bathroom, but never when I'm at the doctor's office and a urine sample is required of me. For instance, yesterday at the doctor's, I filled the cup about 1/20th of the way. But of course, about ten minutes later, I was about to wet my pants. I think it's the pressure.

My second dilemma. Where to put the urine sample at my current doctor's office. This is my doctor's office bathroom:

My instructions, "Just leave it in there." My doctor's office in California had a little medicine cabinet sort of thing that opened to the other room where I left the little cup and the nurse could get it in the other room. Then they moved to a new office where the bathroom was down the hallway in the office building and I had to take a key, and a brown paper bag with the urine sample cup with me, and then return the bag and filled cup to the receptionist. Sort of strange, but I knew what I needed to do.

My current doctor's office bathroom has a sink, a toilet, a trash can, and a three level basket shelf tower thing with little cleansing wipes and extra urine cups. There is no where to "just leave it in there." Not even a little table. The toilet has an extra deep back part and I end up just putting it there. Where would you put it??

Monday, August 13, 2007

I love a good oatmeal raisin cookie


I wouldn't classify oatmeal raisin cookies as my favorite (mostly because they usually have nuts), but I do really love them every now and then. I tried the recipe Jamie posted for 9021 Oatmeal Cookies. They were pretty yummy and got me thinking of some of my favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipes. Here they are:

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(this is actually the recipe from the Quaker Oats Lid)

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 cup raisins

Directions:
Heat oven to 350.
Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
Stir in oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool one minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
Makes about 4 dozen.
For Bar Cookies: Bake 30 to 35 minutes in ungreased 9x13 metal baking pan.

Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies
A Pampered Chef Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or ground cinnamon)
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups old-fashioned or quick oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate covered raisins
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 35o.
Combine flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice; mix well and set aside.
Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and beat well.
Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and pecans, if desired.
Make into 1 1/2 inch balls, drop on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Cool 3-5 minutes then move to cooling rack.
Makes 3 1/2 dozen. Store in tightly covered container


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pluffies


Remember when everyone loved Beanie Babies (by Ty) and they became a huge collector's item? My mom owns a huge Rubbermaid box full of them. And I mean HUGE. I don't think I could lift it if I tried. Drag, maybe, but not lift.

I was never into the whole Beanie Baby craze. I was a college student, what use did I have for small stuffed animals? I'd help my mom hunt them down sometimes, and she sent me a few she thought I'd like. I have a pink flamingo and a scorpion (for my high school mascot).

What I love is another stuffed animal by Ty. Pluffies. Have you seen them?


Pluffies are my new baby gift to people. When I had my daughter I got her a pink bear Pluffies and an orange stripey kitten. My son has a puppy. It was my dream the they would become their favorite toy. The one they dragged everywhere they went, dropped in the dirt, slept with, etc. It didn't happen. My kids are both blanket kids. (Although technically my sons "blankeys" are two small burp clothes I sewed for him). They are a little bigger than a Beanie Baby, made of softer fur, and the best thing is, Pluffies are machine washable. It's like the best stuffed animal ever. And only like $6.99 at most stores.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Book Report: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling


My husband works with a brother and sister (the sister owns the company) who were just discussing one of the earlier Harry Potter books because they had been listening to it on cd in the car, the sister's car. So the brother, hadn't heard the whole story and was asking questions about Dumbledore, etc. Funny conversations for a 40 something year old man to have in the workplace. They obviously jumped on the bandwagon late, but are intrigued. I saw an older woman at the pool last week reading book # 5. And before I had read book # 7, we were at a Kansas City Royals game, and the teenage girl in front of us was reading book # 7 at the ball game. Harry Potter is huge. He was huge years ago, and it hasn't died out, yet.

I realize that for most people you are either on the Harry Potter bandwagon, or you are sick of Harry Potter. This is also a popular enough book that I don't want to ruin it for those of you who jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon late (like my husband's coworkers), or who have not yet read book #7.

I didn't start reading Harry Potter books until the first three were published. I believe #1 was in paperback (I've since had to buy it in hardcover so it matches my set, I'm a bit obsessive about book serieses matching) but #s 2 and 3 were only in hardcover. I read them for a Young Adult literature class at BYU with Dr. Chris Crowe. He didn't actually assign Harry Potter, we had an essay we had to write and he was intrigued by the idea of religious people speaking out about the books and their dealing with witchcraft so he gave us the Harry Potter option as a possible topic. (At the time, a new elementary school in Nebo School District - Utah held a contest to let the kids name the new school and Hogwarts won unanimously. It was a huge issue.) I thought, hey, I can finally read these books I've been hearing about, and get credit in a class. So I added the first three Harry Potter books to the 30 other books Dr. Crowe assigned us for the semester and read while walking all over campus in order to get the reading done.

So that's how I got started. While I've enjoyed all of the books, there is always something that bugs me about them. In the last few, it's been Harry's teenage angst and annoyingness. I almost wasn't looking forward to reading this final book. There are always the rumors that each book gets a bit darker than the previous one, that a main character will die, etc. But I must say that this book didn't disappoint me like I thought it most definitely would. Without giving anything away (for those who haven't read it yet, for those who are late jumping on the bandwagon, or for those who just don't care), I think Rowling ended it well. I don't feel confused. It seems as though all lose ends and questions were answered. People died, people lived. It was clear at the end who was alive and who was dead. As a reader, I love epilogues, but at the same time they seem like a pretty cheesy way to satisfy the reader. The epilogue in this book is okay. I don't know that it was needed, but I'm sure readers all over the world were happy to read those last few pages fast forwarded to the future.

*There was one question my husband and I both had after finishing the book, he just forwarded me this link that explains how Neville Longbottom gets the Griffinder sword.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Addicting Foods



If you haven't yet tried these, you should. Not only do they not leave a gross orange residue on your fingers (although they do sort of leave a white powder), they are so so so dang yummy. I'm totally addicted. Plus, I can look at them, and they say "Natural" so, being the non-health food freak that I am, I can assume they are healthy for me without having to read the label which I'm sure would prove they aren't actually healthy for me at all. Right? But healthier than a regular Cheeto. And I'm totally alright with that.

*In reading more... "These white cheddar cheese puffs are made with organic corn meal and contain no hydrogenated oils, no trans fat, no preservatives, and no added color" (taken from http://www.phoood.com/weblog/archives/000053.html).

So they are healthy! Even more fabulous!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Book Report: The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde


I really like Jasper Fforde. I think he is rather brilliant. His first book was The Eyre Affair which starred a fictional female detective, Thursday Next and was set in a fictional 1984, England. It spawned a series of books dealing with Thursday Next and just finished up with book number five (which I am about to start).

I don't know how to describe what category of fiction Fforde's books fit into. I like that Wikipedia says Fforde's known for his "loose adherence to traditional genres." When people asked what I am reading, for The Big Over Easy, I sort of just explained that it's a Nursery Crime detective investigating Humpty Dumpty's death/murder. With The Eyre Affair I've always just said that it's sort of science fiction fantasy with a female detective in England in the past, but a different past. And that it's really good. And that they should read Jane Eyre first. And don't say "no way" to this book because I used science fiction and fantasy to describe it. I don't actually read science fiction and fantasy, I just don't know what other terms could describe these books.

The main character is a Nursery Crime Division detective by the name of Jack Spratt. He has a new partner, Mary Mary (as in, "quite contrary"). Jack isn't respected by the other detectives because he's in charge of all nursery crimes (he recently tried the three little pigs for the murder of the wolf). This book also takes place in England, but not any England we know. It's very realistic, while at the same time, being so unreal. If that's even possible.

I think a fair knowledge of Nursery Rhymes would have helped me in reading this book. I should have brushed up before beginning to read. It's just a fun book that alludes to so many different things. I mean, how could the investigation of Humpty's murder not be fun and exciting!

I would also totally recommend the Thursday Next series. And if you are unfamiliar with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, read that first (the book is awesome) or the new TV serial the BBC made follows the book pretty closely, for the quick fix.

Morning Sickness Cures

http://www.jellybabys.co.uk/images/morning_sickness.gif

I'm not going to bore you all by turning my blog into a blog about a pregnant lady. But there are a few things worth mentioning.

When I was pregnant with my first, it seems like I was sick all the time. My husband will never let me live down the fact that I was starving late one night, made him go and buy us In N Out Burgers and immediately after finishing it I puked it all up. He still brings this up every time I'm pregnant and starving late at night, and it's been over 5 years.

I tried all the "cures" with pregnancy #1. I had read somewhere that Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks helped. I drank a lot of them. And it seems as thought it sort of did. But the thought of drinking one of those now, 5+ years later, makes me want to vomit. I drank a lot of Gatorade. I kept crackers by my bed. I drank ginger ale (but what you'll discover is that not a single ginger ale in the grocery store actually has ginger as an ingredient... it's ginger that you need). I ate small meals. I avoided greasy foods. I avoided strong smells. I was still sick.

Plus, with pregnancy #1 everything set me off. Especially meat. I had huge issues with meat. I'd get seriously grossed out mid chew of Sunday dinner and my in-laws and have to spit my bite into my napkin hoping no one noticed. I also got full mid chew a lot. All of a sudden I'd be in the middle of chewing a bit and my stomach would tell me "you can't swallow this bite. You're too full. If you swallow this bite, you're going to puke it all up." This also drove my poor husband crazy.

With pregnancy #2, I felt sick a lot of the time, but only actually threw up a few times. My reasoning? Kid #1 was only one year old when I became pregnant with kid #2. There was no time or place to be sick. I just had to deal with it.

With pregnancy #3 I've felt pretty sick. But again, now I have two kids to deal with and no time to be bent over a toilet. Nor to I think while I eat. I'm just eating while making sure my kids are eating and thinking of what to do next, etc. Plus I've figured out my body. I don't have morning sickness. I have night sickness. As long as there is always some food in my stomach, but not too much, I can survive. But until about a week ago, I had to be in bed every night by 10 PM or it was like I was Cinderella and my coach was turning back into a pumpkin. That's when the morning sickness hit. I had to lay down and go to sleep immediately or toilet here I came. I needed sleep. And so I've survived the morning sickness phase of pregnancy #3 without actually puking. Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

ebay


So I love ebay. I've bought dozens of things from ebay and half.com. Never something big like a car, but lots and lots of little things.

And now it's official, I've actually sold something on ebay. Three somethings. I'm a little disappointed that there weren't huge bidding wars going on to buy my items, but I realize I should just be thankful that at least one person wanted to buy the junk I wanted to get rid of.

But now I'm obsessed. I keep looking around my house trying to decide what else might be worth selling on ebay. What could make me big bucks on ebay? Then I start thinking about all the stuff other people have (like my parents) that I could make a bundle selling on ebay. It's probably not so smart to sell of things that I don't even own, is it. But I'm obsessed!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Weird Habits

I've been thinking about weird habits I've adopted over the years. Here are just a few:

I sleep way down on my bed (I'm 5'6" and we have a California King bed) so that I can sleep on my stomach with my toes hanging off the edge. I've done this as long as I can remember.

I have to have something near my nose to fall asleep. This is a more recent development. Usually just the sheet, or my hand up near my face. I don't know why.

Sometimes, I find myself falling asleep by cupping my hand under my ear. This goes back to college, when I had the cartilage parts of both ears pierced (not at the same time). I can only sleep on my stomach, so my sore ear was pressed into the pillow and it hurt. So I took to sort of cupping my hand around my ear between it and the pillow, with my fingers spread out where the earring was. I took all those earrings out 6+ years ago and I still sleep that way sometimes.

I count my fingers all the time. Not because I'm worried that they are gone, just as something to do when I am nervous or bored. It started my freshman year of college when I had a jogging class. It was either my teacher, or maybe my husband that told me not to run with my fists clenched, so to remind myself to keep them open I'd count my fingers. I start with my thumbs on each hand, sort of move that finger when I count it and think "12345" then I reverse is starting with my pinky and count "12345" again. It used to be really bad, to the point that, before we were married, my husband and I would be holding hands and he'd ask me if they were all there because he could feel me counting them all the time. I don't do it much now, but I catch myself every once in awhile.

I'm sure there are tons more. I asked my husband if he could think of any. His response was if he knew more weird stuff about me he wouldn't have married me. So I guess I've done a good job keeping all of my weird habits to myself, until now.


What are your weird habits?


Here are a few that I know of:

My mom hums all the time. She doesn't realize she's doing it.

My brother feels wrinkles. It's been his comfort thing since he was a baby. He feels the wrinkles in his sheets to fall asleep. He feels the wrinkles in his pants when he's sitting down, etc.

My best friend Angela wiggles her toes when she's falling asleep.

My daughter wraps her blankey around her neck like a scarf to fall asleep. She also chews on anything she happens to be holding without thinking about it.

My son ends a lot of his sentences with "you know that?"
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