"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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Books I've started and never finished

This is the list of books (that I can remember) that I've started and never finished - which is a rarity for me. I almost always read a book, no matter what. Some of these books I have full intentions of reading someday, just not today (ie: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell), some I will never pick up again.


Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke


All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy


Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


On Writing by Stephen King


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Friday, December 28, 2007

Beware of Cockatiels

I am birdsitting some cockatiels for a friend. It hasn't been all bad, it's actually sort of nice to come home to a pet, but I do have these complaints:

As soon as a vacuum around the cage, they drop three times the amount of seeds and feathers that I just vacuumed up. It's like they are doing it on purpose.

My kids insist on feeding them, changing their water, and giving them a treat constantly. Usually while I'm making food in the kitchen so we all have to take care of the birds, then wash our hands. Argh.

They make a lot of noise. Not all the time. But they are pretty noisy birds.

My daughter realized some things she didn't get for Christmas that she'd still like and started making her birthday list (her birthday is in August) and on her list is "pet birds." Yea (read very sarcastically).

I worry that it's too cold for them in our downstairs (all the heat in our place rises so that upstairs is warm and toasty at night, but the birds are downstairs) and I'll come down some morning to find them dead.

I just realized that our house smells like birds. I've never wanted indoor cats or dogs, mainly due to the smell. Now I live in a giant bird cage. I hope no one comes to visit.

What we got my husband for his birthday:

The Simpsons Movie


A box of 24 Reese's Whips from Sam's Club


The Killer's cd "Sawdust"


The Hives cd "The Black and White Album"


Chicken Salad Sandwiches for dinner


A Blueberry Sour Cream Pie for dessert

Princess Sparkley did math before he came home from work so he wouldn't have to do math with her. (That's been the new rule since his semester ended, she makes math difficult with me, so she has to do it at the end of the day with Daddy and if it takes too long, they don't have time to read books together.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Books I got for Christmas

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore


Big Boned by Meg Cabot
(third in trilogy... Size 12 is not fat and Size 14 is not fat either)

This is the Season: Beloved of the Year by Simon Dewey


Finding Daddy by Louise Plummer


Bob and 6 more Christmas stories by Sandra Boynton


Borders Gift Card


Usually I get a lot more books, but I couldn't think of any this year. There were some I wanted, but sequels, and only in hardcover, and I own the paperback, so I just can't handle that... mixing paperbacks and hardcovers in the same set. But I've got that gift card just waiting...

Making handwriting fun


This is my new favorite kid's game - Alphabet Squiggle on-the-go. I saw it awhile ago at our local toy store and wanted to get it for Princess Sparkley for a car trip but didn't, so I stuffed her stocking with it. I figured it would be something more that I would enjoy for her to practice her handwriting than her loving it, but she totally loves it. What you do is spin the little wheel at the top, it points to a letter, you write that letter (lowercase or uppercase) and then you transform that letter into a picture. If you go to the website, there is a whole variety of these little travel sized games, and bigger board games. Check it out.


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Traditions



Driving my husband to work this morning he asked me how long I thought you had to be doing something for it to be considered a tradition. My first answer was - more than once with plans to continue. My second answer was - you can make the statement "we're starting a new tradition" and thus it is a tradition, yet you have in fact, not done it yet. What do you think?

When we were first married we lived in the same town as my parents, his parents, my brother's family, my sister's family, and my brother-in-law who still lived with my in-laws at the time (being in high school and all). This made it so we were bombarded with family on the holidays. Like Thanksgiving lunch and Thanksgiving Dinner. I'm sure many of you have endured similar. By our second Christmas we were sick of it, and we had a child. So we embarked on some traditions of our own. Like we blew all meals off on Christmas Eve and our family goes out for Chinese food, which is actually a family tradition that we stole from my brother-in-law's family in Virginia. I think the whole family has since stolen this tradition as well.

Also when we were first married we sat down and discussed the traditions we had growing up, and which we'd like to keep and which we'd like to do away with. Here's what we came up with, some his, some mine, some brand new to the both of us.

  • On Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd) we exchange ornaments. (His/New)
    • this one we sort of modified. His family always did ornaments for the kids each year. But they also opened family presents Christmas Eve and Santa presents Christmas Day. That didn't leave us any special ornament opening date, so we do it Christmas Eve Eve each year. This way also, if any presents are late and show up the day after Christmas, my husband, whose birthday is the 27th, has basically an entire week of present opening, which he of course loves.
  • We eat at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve. (New)
  • Christmas Eve we open family gifts (His)
  • Christmas Eve, one of the presents the kids open is PJs and/or slippers (Mine)
  • Before coming downstairs Christmas morning, the kids have to drink a glass of orange juice. (His)
  • The kids do not however have to brush their teeth before drinking the aforementioned orange juice. (New revision)
  • Christmas morning we open Santa presents (His/Mine)
  • Our kids know that we are Santa (New)
  • An orange in our stockings - although it'll probably be a Clementine (Mine)
  • We eat Danish aebleskiver's for Christmas breakfast (Mine)
    • My dad is half Danish and at some point in my parents' marriage they decided to adopt some cultural traditions... they once lived in Santa Barbara, which is next to the Danish town of Solvang, and so the aebleskiver tradition was born.
  • We sit around in our PJs a lot (just sort of happens)

What are your holiday traditions... new, old, revised?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Love/Hate Relationship with Clementines



I love oranges, but hate to peel them. And hate the seeds. So Clementines are perfect. They are cute and tiny, they peel super easily, and they have no seeds. What's not to love? I'm a little creeped out by how easily they peel. I mean, what have scientists done to genetically alter the make-up of an orange so that they peel so easily... it's like their peel is barely attached and just falls right off. Don't get me wrong, it's great. I just can't think about it too much.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why'd I Go To College?



I came across this site that assesses your blog's reading level. It seemed really fun, until I typed in my blog's address and the results are that after four and a half years of studying at a good university and graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in English-teaching, I apparently write like a junior high student. That was a big boost to my ego. I checked some friends blogs, they were all high school or college level writers with the exception of one that was rated "Elementary School." Now I'm feeling really dumb. Then I checked my other blogs... I have a family blog that is mostly kid pictures for the grandparents. It scored me a:




That made me feel a little bit better. And my book club blog (which I can't take full credit for writing since it's a team effort) scored us a:



I think I'll go with that assessment and blame the junior high level assessment on my obsession with ellipses and such.

Waddling Duck



I hate the whole thing about pregnant women waddling like a duck, but I think with five weeks to go... I've begun to waddle. Maybe it's been longer and I've just been in denial. Everyone (husband aside) keeps telling me how tiny I am, but I feel enormous. So I'm an enormous duck waddling everywhere I go. At least I don't own any yellow maternity clothes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Playing Santa




There is an ongoing joke in my family about my mom losing Christmas presents. She shops in advance (and last minute), hides the presents, and then forgets where. Often times, after all the presents are opened, breakfast is eaten and all the crumpled wrapping paper has been thrown out, my mom would realize that some present she'd bought hadn't been opened and she'd have to start hunting in her closet for it. There were even times when she'd totally forget the present until she came across it in her closet months later. Always good for a family laugh.

My husband called tonight as I was "double-checking" my Santa list. I was in the middle of wrapping presents and was looking at my list of presents (wanted, bought, wrapped, etc. - I'm sort of compulsive about lists) to make sure I hadn't lost any. That made my husband laugh, knowing my family history of losing presents. And there were some on the list that hadn't been located, that I'd almost forgotten, but I had my list, so I hunted in my closet more and found them. Check check check... all boughten Christmas presents are accounted for. This Santa doesn't have Alzheimer's.

Not Martha Stewart... far from



I'm not a very crafty person. I like crafty things. I just don't have the patience for the perfection that I would require of anything crafty. I was the little girl who at church craft events always talked the lady in charge of tole painting to paint eyes on my Easter Bunny, or whatever we were doing. I learned that from my mom. But putting my non-craftiness aside, I'm also the only one in my family who sews. Sort of. I'm beginning to wonder if I can count what I do as sewing.

When I was about 10 years old my mom decided to have a lady from church give me sewing lessons. Apparently I have two great aunts who were beautiful sewers and worked as seamstresses for Clark Gable... or something like that. So she figured the talent must be buried somewhere in the family, and she was guessing it was buried in me. This lady from church had me sew a pair of shorts and we did some iron-on, stitch around decorations to a t-shirt to make it math. I of course picked out the fabric -hot pink and purple and other color checks. I think I wore the shorts to school once and was ridiculed. That was my first sewing experience.

I love quilts. My initial interest, all on my own, into sewing was so I could quilt. The problem... I don't sew straight enough for my quilt squares to line up. As a half perfectionist, this bugs me. Plus I can't cut all the strips and squares straight with my rotary cutter. Basically, I think I try to do everything to fast because I don't have the patience to take the time that is necessary. I think I'm overcompensating for the fact that it won't be perfect no matter how long I take, so if I do it fast, I have an excuse for its imperfection. I was this way in school. If I didn't study for a test, that made a great excuse for failing it. Rather than studying and having no excuse for the same failure. That's sort of my attitude about all things crafty.

So since I'm the only "sewer" in my family, it's become my job to make baby blankets (and capes). A few weeks ago I realized that with all my getting caught up with Christmas shopping, etc. I hadn't thought of making a baby blanket yet for my sister who's baby is due the day AFTER Christmas (nor my own baby). So I found an adorable fabric used in a ribbon tag lovey blanket and tracked a yard of the fabric down on ebay. It arrived a couple weeks ago, and last week I finally went shopping for the fabric to be the back of the blanket. Sometime this weekend I began panicking about all things Christmas mail related, realizing that I needed to finish my shopping for my California family and get it in the mail ASAP. This included the baby blanket which, at the time, was two pieces of washed, nicely folded fabric. So I whipped it up quickly the other night. And it looks okay - as long as you don't expect it to fold nicely into clean straight squares because is sides are not clean straight lines.

So I've taken this super cute fabric, sewn too quickly and while distracted by kids not going to bed and shows on TV, turned it into something inferior to what it could have been. I think that's why I don't attempt very many crafts... they'll always be inferior to what they could be. So as I mail this blanket off, I'm thankful that since my sister doesn't sew at all, hopefully she'll never even notice the crookedness of this little gift. Cross your fingers for me.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Orange Rolls

I love baking. Desserts specifically. That should be obvious my the recipes I post here.

I'm not a huge chocolate person. I don't like chocolate cake. I don't like chocolate ice cream. I don't particularly care for Oreos. I do however like chocolate candy, and other chocolate desserts. But right now, almost 8 months pregnant, I'm discovering that chocolate is a huge culprit of my heartburn. That being said, here's a non-chocolate recipe that I am smelling right now as they cool and await their glaze.

It's my brother-in-law's recipe that I believe he got from his mission president's wife, who, for awhile was wife to the LA Temple president. (I assume she is still his wife, he just isn't the current president of the LA temple.) My brother-in-law always makes them as more of a dinner roll when we have ham dinners for Easter, etc. My dad however is adamant that this is a dessert and is always very distraught when it's served with dinner. Server them how you may. I like them as an alternative to cinnamon rolls.

Orange Rolls


This is Buddy glazing Orange Rolls in April as our Easter breakfast.


Ingredients:

1 square butter
1 cup milk (scalded)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3 eggs (beaten)
5 cups flour


Directions:

Mix together butter, milk, salt and sugar. Cool.

Separately, mix together yeast, sugar and warm water.

Let stand.

Add yeast mixture and eggs to first mixture. Then add flour gradually and beat well. (Mixture will be slightly sticky).

Let rise until almost doubled in bulk. Punch down and separate into two equal portions. Using a bread board that is heavily floured roll out one portion at a time to about a 12x18 rectangle.

Orange Filling : Mix together ½ cup butter (melted), ½ cup sugar, grated rind of one orange.

Spread on the orange filling with a knife and beginning at the long side roll up, as for a cinnamon roll. Slice off with dental floss/thread in about 1 inch pieces and place in well greased muffin tins. Let rise until light. Bake 375 for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Ice with powdered sugar mixed with orange juice to separate consistency.

Makes 2 dozen.
*My recipe says, "easily doubled," except for the 10 cups of flour... yikes. My mixer can't handle that. Darn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Book Recommendations


Don't Bite Me, I'm Santa Claus
by Tom Plummer
(husband to my favorite author, Louise Plummer)
A collection of essays about his childhood experiences with Santa, his adult experiences as Santa, and everything in between. There's also a forward by his wife. They are both very humorous people and I always enjoy reading what they have written.



The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman
by Louise Plummer
This is a young adult novel about a girl who has always had a crush on her older brother's best friend, will that romance come true this Christmas? Written from the teenage girls perspective, as if she was writing a romance novel, this book is so funny. I love it.




Letters from Father Christmas
by J.R.R. Tolkien
I've already written a post about this book.



Other notable mentions, all children's books:




When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem
by Joseph Brickey


How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky



How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss



Snowmen At Night by Carolyn Buehner



The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg



The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett



The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett


Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter



I spent the first 17 or so winters of my life in nice, mild Southern California.

Then I spent 4 1/2 winters in Provo, Utah.

And I've spent the last two winters, and will spend this winter, in Lawrence, KS.

Moving to Kansas I figured I had lived somewhere cold and where it snowed, this wouldn't be any different. It's not my ideal lifestyle but I'd learn to deal with it and adjust.

When we moved here there were a lot of relocated Utahns. They all basically said the same thing. It's not as snowy as Utah, it's colder and there is more ice and freezing rain. I, of course, had no idea what freezing rain was. It was explained to me as, "you could be driving along in the cold rain and then all of a sudden your windshield is frozen." Nice, that sounds great.

This winter, now that we have wireless internet and a laptop, I check the weather forecast probably every hour or so. And not just the day's forecast. The day. The hour by hour. The 10 day. I check it all. And all it's been saying lately is "freezing drizzle," "freezing rain," or "Wintry Mix," whatever that means. And I alternate between feeling like I'm stuck home in the middle of a blizzard and needing to run out and do everything I need to do because weather.com says the "freezing drizzle" isn't due until 5PM.

It's way different being a college student living where it snows, and being a ... gulp... real adult. We actually own a snow shovel, and salt to sprinkle on the sidewalk. I have important events scheduled like doctor's appointments, not just class to walk to. Or social events to blow off.

My husband rides a bike to school everyday. Well... that was the idea, but as the temperature has dropped the bike has become a permanent fixture of our tiny abode's decor, and my husband has been talking me into driving him, or riding the bus, more often than not. The other day we had an appointment for an ultrasound. It was the only day I could schedule one when my husband would be available to be there. So he rode the bus to school and I loaded the kids in the car a few hours later to pick him up. Now, Kansas is flat. Yes, I'm aware of that. But we actually live in a sort of hilly part of Kansas (gasp, Kansas has hills!!). Between my house and the University of Kansas's campus is one street with some massive hills on it. We got stuck. I was literally blocking a major road, with a car equally stuck next to me, and another in front of me. All of us going no where, with some angry cars behind us that weren't stuck. It was like a nightmare come true for me. I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant with two little kids in the car and I'm stuck on a busy street, in snow and my tires just keep spinning. After about ten minutes, I was able to maneuver a little bit, turn left through a cut out in the divider and into a church parking lot, forcing my husband to walk to us, because there was no way to get up that hill.

We made it to the doctor's, we got the ultrasound, but now I keep finding myself thinking of routes around town that don't involve hills. And feeling so lucky that the hospital is off a state highway (first to get plowed, right?), that it's not hilly, or I'd be having even more nightmares about giving birth in a car, in January, in 10 degree temperature.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Eliminated Names

Will BABY X ever have a name??

These are the names which have been nominated and eliminated by one or more members of our family.

Buddy has nominated:
Esee (pronounced like the letters S-E)
Zero
Hadey
Iggy
his own name
names that rhyme with his own name
Thomas the Tank Engine
other of Thomas's friends (ie: Edward, James, Percy, Gordon, etc.)

I have nominated:
Owen - it's become too popular
Evan - it's become too popular, husband hates
Theodore - too big of a name, no good nicknames

My husband has nominated:
Ignacius (as a middle name, Iggy as a nickname) - ick
Moses - he hasn't really pushed this, but it's one of his favorite names
Hyrum - same as above

Princess Sparkley:
She just sort of goes along with the flow. She was on board with Baby Iggy for awhile. And agrees with Buddy about Baby Zero and Baby Esee. And she'll agree with whichever boy name we're thinking of at the time. So hopefully she'll just be happy with whatever we pick... whatever that may be.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Don't they look alike?

After my ultrasound, when the technician turned the lights back on she looked at our son and said, "Wow, this baby looks just like him." Here's for you to decide.



Buddy, the day he came home from the hospital.


Baby X's 3D ultrasound.


Buddy a few months ago.

Maybe Buddy had the right idea in naming the baby after him, although it would be confusing to have two kids with the same name. Maybe the baby will be a Mini Me version of the boy we already have.


Attention Chocolate Lovers


Just a reminder that Cadbury has their Christmas version of the Easter Cadbury mini Egg available right now. They are just like the Easter candies, except chocolate spheres coated in red, white and green candy shells. So yummy. A couple of days ago it was 2 bags for $4. Don't miss this chance.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's a ...!

We finally had an ultrasound today.


a foot


a profile of the baby's face


a 3D of the baby's face



It's a Boy!
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