"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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I'm doing instead of blogging...

  • Puking - well, not anymore. I had the flu, or ate something weird, or just had some sort of 24 hour thing. So, I'm no longer puking, just weak.
  • Reading - I'm trying to read 18,000 pages this year for my second best year ever. I just started the new Harry Potter book (The Tales of Beedle Bard) in order to reach this goal.
  • Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season is due back at the library Saturday and I'm only about halfway through.
  • For Christmas I got Jed three boxsets of movies: the Bourne trilogy, the Spiderman trilogy and the Oceans trilogy (or as Jed has been calling it, Oceans 36).
  • Writing out a grocery list since I haven't been grocery shopping since before Christmas... I'm pretty sure.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jed's Birthday

Jed's birthday is two days after Christmas. It seems like this could be fun at times... bigger, more expensive presents because they count as birthday/Christmas presents. Opening presents for a week on end (we open ornaments on Festivus, family presents Christmas Eve, Santa presents Christmas day, late Christmas presents or early birthday presents on Boxing Day, and presents on his birthday). He likes to compare his birthday week to Hanukkah with the ongoing present opening.

But then there's always the chance that you'll get one present for Christmas and birthday that should only be one present... not two. There's the chance that when you're a kid your mom will think it's a good idea to make you a Christmas tree shaped birthday cake. This will not go over well. Don't try it.

This year the kids seemed to think Jed should have a theme party. I helped steer them in the direction of maps and globes and they drew me a bunch as decorations. Then I created this, which is really just a round brownie, fudge sundae topping, and melted peanut butter.


abstract (because I'm not artistically inclined) chocolate/peanute butter earth brownie

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Fancy Christmas


Fancy Princess Sparkley

I am very grateful that Hannah Montana didn't take over this Christmas. Princess Sparkley is still a bit obsessed with Hannah Montana. But she's still a little girl at heart and all of her Fancy Nancy presents have taken precedence over Hannah Montana... for now. She did get a couple of small Hannah Montana things: slippers and underwear from a cousin, pencils and a folder from Santa, a stickerbook from Grandma L.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Picture: Final Decentest Take

MERRY CHRISTMAS
from our home to yours.



This is the actual picture I sent out with my Christmas letter this year... the center picture being the best of the many many many pictures I took of my kids in their Christmas PJs trying to capture the perfect picture. [Click to see image larger.]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Picture: Final Funny Take


Christmas Picture: Take 10


Christmas Pie

I liked how Jamie posted her holiday menu here. Here's giving it a go*:

Christmas Eve Dinner: eat out at a Chinese restaurant, possibly the one that Buddy thought was a Panda store.

Christmas Breakfast: Princess Sparkley asked to be in charge this year. She wants to have these knock-off apple jacks because they are red and green. With orange juice, because Jed's family tradition is that they have to drink a glass of orange juice before coming downstairs to open presents.

Christmas Brunch/Lunch: after opening presents, we'll have our real breakfast at lunchtime.
Aebleskivers
Scrambled eggs
Bacon
Hash Browns
OJ

Christmas Dinner:
Ham
Cheese Potato Casserole (aka Funeral Potatoes)
steamed Asparagus
Rolls (possibly homemade if I'm feeling ambitious)
sparkling Apple Cider (Jed's family tradition)

Christmas Dessert: I've debated on this. I know I can make whatever I want... last year I tried a candy cane cake that turned out horrible. So I'm wanting to stick to a traditional pie of some sort this year. I was going to go with this double layer pumpkin cheesecake recipe but I think I'll make my mom's Peppermint Ice Cream Pie instead (which as I look at the recipe card, she got from a friend of hers thirty years ago). Here's the recipe:


Peppermint Ice Cream Pie
Ingredients:
2/3 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
7 oz. coconut
peppermint or candy cane ice cream
hot fudge syrup

Directions:
For the crust**, melt chocolate chips and butter. Add milk. Stir in coconut. Spread on bottom of a pie tin and up sides. Freeze 20 minutes. Then fill with slightly softened peppermint ice cream. Freeze. Serve with fudge syrup and whipped cream on top.

*This menu is dependent that I made it to the grocery store at some point today... but I'm waiting for a UPS package to be delivered and don't want to miss it in case I need to sign for it. And, according to the UPS website, they normally deliver from 9-7 but due to the holidays, it could be later. And my grocery store closes at 5. So, we'll see. I'm about to explain how to sign for a package to my kids so I can take a shower.
**I'm personally going to buy an already made chocolate pie crust since I despise coconut. As a kid, I treated the crust of this pie like a bowl and just ate everything from inside of it, ignoring the crust.


Christmas Picture: Take 9

Monday, December 22, 2008

Again

I opened my fridge a few minutes ago and noticed a quart of half and half at the back that I'd bought last week. This was before I bought the half and half for this clam chowder. Actually, it gave me the idea to make clam chowder, but I had to buy more half and half because both recipes called for 1 quart. But now I can't remember my original purpose in buying half and half. Last time it was whipping cream. Argh.

***Added a few minutes later.***
I remembered!!!! A recipe for homemade mac and cheese from my new Taste of Home magazine. I was going to link you to the recipe, but it's for subscribers only, like me. Although you should all subscribe... you can get it as low at $10 or $12 for 10 issues a year. And it is well worth it. Not that I pay, it's a gift from my mom each Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Tag

I like filling out questionaires and surveys. Even at the doctor's office. I think it's fun. It's sort of like writing a list (which I also love), except the questions are provided. And this one is a Christmasy survey... so here goes...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags - Usually wrapped. I love making a present look good. This doesn't always happen. Or I guess I should say, I love presents that look good.

2. Real tree or Artificial - It's pathetically artificial. When we live somewhere that a real tree can fit, I'm definitely having a real tree again.

3. When do you put up the tree - When I get sick of the kids bugging me about it... usually during the week after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down - Hmm... I don't know. A few days after Christmas.

5. Do you like eggnog - I don't know that I've ever actually had eggnog. I do not like the idea of eggnog, and that's why I've never tried it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child - Cabbage Patch kids... back when they were the "IT" toy of the season and hard to get a hand on. And I remember getting a radio/tape player one year that I was super excited about.

7. Hardest person to buy for - My dad. He has everything he wants and if he doesn't have it, he goes out and gets it. This is especially annoying around Christmas and his birthday.

8. Easiest person to buy for - The kids. Although I need to start catering a lot more to their lists and not my version of their list.

9. Do you have a nativity scene - Two. One is Fisher Price for the kids to play with. The other is a little wooden tole painted set. Someday I want a really nice one like this or this.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards - Mail. I love writing, sending and receiving Christmas cards.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received - My family always let us open one present on Christmas Eve, aside from PJs, and I chose this huge box from my brother. I was probably 5 or 6. Inside was a smaller box. And then another. And another. Until I got to this sandwich sized box and inside was a small stuffed animal dog. I guess the present wasn't so bad. I liked the dog. I was just so mad at him for tricking me.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie - I don't think I have one. I guess A Christmas Story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas - Early. I've been done for several weeks except for the random item here and there.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present - I don't think so.

16. Colored or Clear Lights - Clear. Although my tree has green and red, so at some point, that must have been what I picked. My kids are disappointed that the lights in our window are just white.

17. Favorite Christmas song - It changes every year. I used to love "I'll be home for Christmas." This year I've really been loving "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home - We prefer to stay home... too many Christmases near both of our families that were nonstop other people's traditions with no time for our own.

19. Angel on the tree top or a star - Angel, I think because that's what Jed prefers. I always had a star growing up. If I ever get a new tree top, I think I'll try to talk him into a star.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning - Family presents Christmas Eve, Santa presents Christmas morning... Jed's tradition.

21. Favorite ornament theme or color - Everything. We went to a party the other night and I loved that the people's tree still had all the ornaments their kids had made for them when they were little. It wasn't all Martha Stewart and formal, it was a real family's tree.

22. White or Warm Christmas - I guess a white Christmas is always nice, but every Christmas of my childhood was in California and warm.

23. Favorite Christmas Tradition - Aebleskivers Christmas morning.

24. Favorite Christmas Location - All of my Christmases have either been at my parents' in California, or at our house here in Kansas. So, I guess as long as I'm home and I'm with my family, I'm happy.

25. Who do you tag - Whoever feels like answering some questions.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cleaning With Kids

I need to clean our house today, but every time I start I stop because it's before noon and I know that if I clean this early, by the time I need the house to be clean, it'll be messed up again.

Clam Chowder

I don't like fish. As a kid, I would have said I hated it. I still mostly prefer fish sticks over anything else. I've expanded my fish eating tendencies, but just a bit. I would probably die in Poland at Christmas time (not really, but I'd definitely not enjoy the food.) Other than fish sticks, and sometimes certain salmon dishes, I only like clam chowder. My parents would take us to this fancy (not really, but we thought so as kids) restaurant and they'd order fish and us kids would get clam chowder. I loved it. I still love it. I don't really love the chewy rubberness of the clams, but I try not to think about that.

The following is a combo of my mom's Aunt Thurma* and my brother-in-law's yummy clam chowder recipes:


Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely diced

2 cups potatoes, finely diced

1 cup carrots, finely diced

2 cans (6.5 oz. each) clams, undrained

¾ cup butter

¾ cup flour

1 quart half and half

**1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper


Directions:

Combine vegetables in small saucepan. Drain clams; pour juice over veggies; add enough water to barely cover. Cook, covered until tender – about 15 minutes. In meantime, melt butter in large heavy saucepan. Stir in flour until blended and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in cream until smooth and blended. Return to heat; cook and stir with wire whisk until thick and smooth. Add undrained veggies and clams; heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

*My only memory of my Great Aunt Thurma is when she visited my house when I was 6 or 7, right before my grandma and grandpa died and she would read and read all of my Care Bear books to me.

**Because my mom is pretty sure my great aunt used more heavy whipping cream in her recipe than my brother-in-law does. It was the olden days, people were less health conscious.



Christmas Picture: Take 6



This is PS yelling at me because I've asked for her eyeballs to please be looking at the camera and she insists that they are. However, I have these as proof that her eyeballs are often not looking at the camera when her face is:






*This picture was also eliminated due to PS's underwear showing resulting in my having to crop the picture.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tick Tock



Can you sleep with the noise of a ticking clock? A few years ago for Christmas (or maybe his birthday, which is two days after Christmas) we bought Jed a Homer Simpson clock like the one pictured above. While this clock is hilariously fun, it ticks so loudly that even after I kicked it out of our bedroom and into the hallway, I could still hear it an it got bumped to Baby X's room (which at the time was the office/playroom). I've noticed over the past couple weeks that Baby X looks at the clock a lot too. I'm wondering if it's driving him nuts like it did me.

On another note, well, not really, we have a new clock in our bedroom. I made it at a church function. It's ticking is not as loud as the Homer clock, but every once in awhile I lay in bed and all I can hear is TICK TOCK TICK TOCK. Last night as we were trying to fall asleep, Jed said, "Has that clock always been that loud?" And I realized maybe all ticking clocks need to find a new home elsewhere in our house. And then I wondered, how does my sister survive. She has a wall in her home covered with beautiful clocks. I'm sure they tick and tock, but most definitely not together so it would me more of a TICK TICK tock tick TOCK Tick TOCK TOCK TOck TiCk tOCk ToCK TicktoCKtockTOcKtickTICkTock. I think I would lose my mind.

Stuck In the Snow

After driving around in lots of snow on unplowed roads and getting stuck twice (which is one of my worst nightmares*) I picked Jed up from the bus stop and said, "We need to get a car that can never get stuck in the snow. What kind of car is that... a snow plow?" Which got a loud, excited response from Buddy in the backseat who said, "YEAH, a snow plow." This might have been the most exciting idea he's ever heard since he'd spent all morning with our snow shovel pretending to be a snow plow** complete with his own snow plow noises.

*Last December, on a snowy day like this I had my ultrasound appointment to find out if Baby X would be a boy or a girl (and to make sure he was all okay), I had to drive up to the college campus (which, even by standards other than those set by Kansas is a hilly drive) to pick up Jed and the kids and I got stuck at a red light on the snowy slippery hill. Luckily we weren't the only car stuck... there were probably 6 of us stuck, but that made it so I couldn't just gun the engine because who knew where I'd go and I didn't want to hit one of the other cars. It was terrifying, being one of my biggest fears and all. In the lane next to me was a car with two college girls stuck but behind us there were cars that could make it up the hill and were annoyed with us. I finally maneuvered my way out of all this.

**Yesterday he snow shoveled right along with out complex's maintenance guy. It was so funny to watch, especially since he's normally pretty shy around adults he doesn't know. I asked him if the guy talked to him, he said, yes, twice. I asked if he talked to the guy to which he answered, "umm... I don't think so."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa Came Early

We woke up yesterday morning to this

,

and this



and it kept snowing all morning and after lunch.


"Santa" couldn't very well send the kids out to play in the snow knowing perfectly well that she (I mean he) had boots for them in her closet that they'd asked for on their Christmas lists. So Santa dropped off a special delivery due to the snow that came before Christmas.






We also got Jed this new yellow snow shovel which he's going to have to fight Buddy for. PS wanted to sled. Buddy wanted to shovel. I can't wait until he's a teenager.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December Archives

I have had a lot of fun Christmas posts in the past years. Here are some links:

Christmas Traditions


Christmas Book Recommendations

Christmas Goodies to Share

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - Christmas Style

Christmas Picture: Take 5


Christmas Music

I love Christmas music. And while I love the classic versions, I also love to hear either modern remakes, or modern artists performing them. Or modern artists singing their own original Christmas songs. And since Weezer is my fave band, I just downloaded this album on Napster. So far, they are just singing the songs, true to the songs. But still awesome because it's guitars and Rivers Cuomo.

Another favorite favorite Christmas song of mine is The Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan singing a medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings."

How Does Santa Travel South of the Equator

Because Princess Sparkley is smart. And because she knows that I get all of my answers from the internet. And because she doesn't want to do math, she just asked the following:

Can you look up how Santa gets around where it isn't winter?

Any ideas of an answer? In our house, the kids know the truth about Santa. And we pretend like he's real. So I don't technically need an explanation but thought this was a fun question. And I guess, in reality (pretend reality) the sled flies and doesn't function like a snow sled, so I guess that's the answer. The sled flies.

All the Single Ladies

Princess Sparkley: Can I listen to my [Princess Sparkley's] profile . . . (She means playlist.) to hear that song?

Me: What song?

PS: All the Single Ladies.

Me: [Cracking Up.]


Jed and I saw the Saturday Night Live skit a couple of weeks ago with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake singing and dancing to "All the Single Ladies."

I hunted down the video on YouTube while Princess Sparkley was nearby and if the computer ever starts making noise (music, videos, etc.) the kids come running to see what it is. She loves the song. So I made a Princess Sparkley playlist on Napster and she has her songs from Enchanted and this song by Beyonce. Oh, and also the David Duchovny song by Bree Sharp that I blogged about here.

She's just informed me that she'd like this video posted on her blog with the boys dancing funny as well. Oh, she says she likes the boys and she doesn't like the girls. And yes, she has her own blog. Scary what I give in to.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Top Books

My book club here in Kansas voted (well, I'm in charge, so I made them vote) on their favorite 5 books that we read this year. The poll isn't perfect because:

1) there were only 11 books to pick from
2) I don't think everyone (or anyone) read each book (me included)
3) Some people only read 5 or 6 books, so their choices were basically just ranking what they read
4) I just tallied up each book that got a vote not taking into account which number it ranked at for everyone.


Here are the books we read:
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Pope Joan by Donna Cross
Mafia to Mormon by Mario Facione
The Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini
E=MC2 by David Bodanis
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larsen
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans
Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Here are the results:
1. Hattie Big Sky
2. The Thirteenth Tale
3. Pope Joan, The Secret Life of Bees and The Sunflower

Scones

At some point, before I was born, my parents decided our family should recognize the culture's of our ancestors. My dad's father was Danish, his mother was English. My mom's family is mostly English. Thus came to be the traditions of aebleskivers (which I wrote about briefly here) and scones.

Here's the thing about my family's version of scones, and real British scones with clotted cream... they are way different. When I lived in London for a shortened semester, one of my top priorities was going somewhere for High Tea. I don't know why. But that's what I wanted to do. Not for the tea, I don't drink tea, but for the atmosphere and the scones. But British scones are more like a ... sweet biscuit for lack of any more coherent thoughts or descriptions. (See the wikipedia description here.)

My family's scones are basically fried dough. Here's the unofficial recipe. Oh, but first, here's when we eat it. Right now my church time is at 11 o'clock in the morning. Lunchtime. So when we return home at 2 PM we are starving. If I'm on the ball, I get everything in the crockpot before church for a roast or something of the sort that'll be ready when we walk in the door. And we eat a lunch/dinner at about 2:3o. For a dinner/dessert later that night we have scones. More filling and healthier (kind of) than an actual dessert.

Scones

Ingredients:
Rhodes frozen rolls or Rhodes Sweet Bread Frozen Loaves
vegetable oil
butter
jam
honey
powdered sugar

Directions:
Thaw dough according to package directions. Let rise. Punch down and make ball of the dough tearing holes in the middle so they are donut-esque. Let rise again. Heat vegetable oil in shallow frying pan over medium heat. Place dough in pan. Turn. Once both sides are a nice light brownish color, place them on paper towels to soak up extra oil.

Serve with butter, honey, powdered sugar. Or with butter, jam, powdered sugar. And a big glass of milk.

Christmas Picture: Take 4


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ear Zit

My ear hurts. I think it has a zit in it. You know how the ear and the nose are seriously the most painful spots to get a zit. And the problem with the ear is you can't see into your own ear to know what's going on in there. Maybe it's an enormous ant bite. Or an ear wig just hanging on as it pinches me.

Babysitters

I'm beginning to think maybe my kids aren't as angelic as I think. Okay, scratch that, I've never thought my kids were angelic. But I do think they are better behaved than a lot of kids out there. They are a bit needy in the attention department from strangers (well, not strangers, teenage girls or other moms who Princess Sparkley loves to chat the ears off of), but that aside, they are pretty good kids. But every time I need a babysitter, which is only 3-4 times a year, no one is available. I'm beginning to think they are avoiding us and coming up with excused not to babysit, much like myself as a teenager. I should have said yes more often, it's the babysitting gods frowning down upon me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cats

A black and white cat walked past our window as we sat eating lunch yesterday. My kids were thrilled. I said, jokingly, "Why don't we steal it and name it Tallulah?" Then I started cracking up because I've already done that. I wasn't thinking when I said what I said, but I have "stolen" a cat and we did name it Tallulah. I mentioned this briefly in a post long ago that listed 100 things about me. I stole our neighbor's cat (really, it relocated to our shed and had kittens). Then I took said cat to a cat clinic, signed a form that said, yes this cat was mine, and had it fixed (neutered/spayed, whichever is for girl cats). Then we brought it home and considering that I'd just signed my name to it, we changed it's name from Mommy Cat to Tallulah, thanks to 2 1/2 year old Princess Sparkley. We then gave her kittens to a pet store. Tallulah almost made the move to Kansas with us. My parents weren't keen on us leaving her there. If she'd have cooperated upon being loaded in the moving truck, she would have made the drive to Kansas in a truck with Jed. AND we're not even cat people! And she probably wouldn't have survived the first winter here because there's no way I'm letting a cat IN my house. And it gets pretty cold out here. Actually, I think we were planning on donating her to my brother-in-law's up and coming farm. So she would have been eaten by dogs or coyotes by now. Which, was probably her fate being an outdoor cat in a rural part of California because it's been 3+ years, and her 9 lives are probably up.

Princess Sparkley steals my camera

We bought Princess Sparkley a cheap, kid camera for her 5th birthday. It hasn't done so well. And most of the time it's batteries have run out before she can get the pictures onto the computer. If I can figure out how to do it. And the pictures are all fuzzy and dark. So, I let her use mine the other day to capture some of the Christmas decorations she wanted to take pictures of. Here's what I found when I uploaded the pictures to my computer.



Christmas Picture: Take 1


Smells Like Tortillas

My baby smells like tortillas. I'm not sure why. Part could be that he is terrified of taking baths lately... but that only explains a smell, not a tortilla smell.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm back

If you hadn't noticed by the sudden explosion of posts* ... I'm back. The computer is virus free, or so we hope and I only have 186 google reader posts to read... that's not counting all of you private bloggers. So, I'm back, but it may be slow here for a bit. Or maybe not since I haven't been able to say any of the mundane things going through my mind since Saturday. We'll see.

*Scroll down.

Anyways

So, I've blogged before about someone telling me that starting sentences with “so” is a Utah thing. Now I notice that I do it a lot. Not really in conversations with real people, but in conversations with you, yes, I use “so” a lot. And anyways. I use that a ton!! Sorry. Mrs. Woolman and Mrs. Brannock would be so ashamed. And any other of the dozens of teachers I've had over the years. Oh, and I like to start sentences with “and” and end them with prepositions.

A Warmer Climate

Today (yesterday) was the first day it snowed. Well, supposedly it snowed some over Thanksgiving but we were in St. Louis and the snow we got in St. Louis melted by the time we came home from church. Anyways, it snowed today and it was in the low 20s and I am beginning to rethink agreeing to some of these colleges Jed has applied to for grad school. I'm California born and raised. To a Californian, 40 degrees is too cold of a winter.

The X-Files



Yes. I was one of those people. I was introduced to The X-Files by my freshman English teacher at BYU. I think her name was Glenda. And for some reason, Glenda Day pops into my head. So maybe that was her name. Or, if there is someone famous named Glenda Day, then it just sounds familiar to me. Like how when we had a cat named Tallulah, my dad kept calling her Tallulah Belle, after some movie star from his youth. Anyways, back the The X-Files. So I watched a few episodes as part of that class, or something. I'm not sure how it all worked out. My memory, as I've said before, sucks eggs. Well, maybe I didn't word it quite like that.

I think I watched it pretty regularly my freshman year. Possibly into my sophomore year. I really don't remember. And then my junior year, I moved into a house that 10 girls lived in and was next to a house with 12 boys. Heaven, right? Well, sort of. A few of my roommates and I became friends with the guys that lived upstairs next door (Natalie from 100% Cottam's brother-in-law lived upstairs, I don't think he joined us for much X-Files watching though, and Marta's (from Marta Writes) husband, Dan, lived there as well. And he was definitely in on the X-Files watching.) Anyways. Funny, blog connections. So we'd watch X-Files over at the guys house each Sunday after The Simpsons. This was towards the end of the show's run, 1998/1999 ish. Everything was leading up to the “tell all episode” of the whole alien conspiracy that the X-Files is all about. We decided we needed to figure it all out before they told us. Back then this meant find a Blockbuster Video or some other video store and renting the VHS tapes of each episode. I think there were three episodes per tape. But it was sporadic which episodes they were, and we weren't sure which ones dealt with the alien conspiracy*. So it was an adventure figuring out which ones to watch and trying to cram it all in. When the “tell all episode” finally aired, we were pumped and felt prepared. I don't even remember all of what they “told” us now. But we had fun leading up to it and watching it.

When the first movie came out I was also living in Utah. I went with a different group of friends. I think it was for my 21st birthday. When Scully announced that she'd been transferred to the Salt Lake City office, the audience went wild. Don't you love a Utah movie crowd? I thought it was only a Utah moviegoer thing until I saw Twilight here in Kansas and the audience reacted so much to everything I felt like I was back in Provo. Anyways, last night I watched the second X-Files movie... by myself. Scary! The first movie dealt with the alien plot line, this one was more the paranormal creepy scary stuff. This movie wasn't fabulous, but as a fan of X-Files and especially of Mulder and Scully, this was very satisfying. There were cheesey parts that you know they put in just for fans like me, and worse... when Mulder is eating sunflower seeds, the 'I Want To Believe poster,' the pencils stuck in the ceiling...all at the very beginning to remind us that this is the same Mulder we know and love.** They didn't ignore the romantic storyline between Mulder and Scully, but they also didn't spell it out. Skinner made an appearance. The only thing I'm left confused and disappointed about is about William, Mulder and Scully's son. They admit that he's their son, which the series sort of left to the audience to assume (if I'm remembering correctly), but he's gone. Dead? I can't remember how it all ended in the show. Maybe he was abducted.*** Now I'm going to have to start getting X-File seasons on dvd from the library so I can figure it all out. ***

*I saw on wikipedia that there is a list of all the alien plot episodes.
**When I get back online, I'll try to link you all to the David Duchovny song by Bree Sharp. So funny!
***I looked it up on wikipedia after my computer was fixed.
****Oh, and whenever they call for a CSM in Walmart I crack up because while it may mean Customer Service Manager, or whatever in store terms. In X-Files terms it stood for the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Missing

No no, I'm not dead. Just my computer is. Sort of. It has a virus. And so we're not using it for anything that requires a password... or the internet. I tried emailing posts to my account from Princess Sparkley's school computer, but they haven't shown up. And I'm finding that when I'm not able to blog, I have all sort of ideas for things to blog about. Funny how that works. Hopefully I'll be up and running soon. I'm not sure how I'll get this posted... maybe I'll email it to Jed and he can post it for me at school/work. Except I can't email it because I'm typing on the infected computer and I'm not using passwords on here right now. And I'm afraid to put a jumpdrive in here and then transfer the virus to a different computer. Hmmm... this may all have to wait until the virus has been eliminated. GO AWAY VIRUS!*


*I'm back online and I think it's all cleared up. Thanks to Jed's IT guy at work who sent out a helpful email to everyone about how to get rid of spyware/adware. Here's what he recommended and it found 58!!! virus type things on our computer and now we are running speedily with no pop-ups. Hoorah!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Frustrated... again

Two! I just found another tiny candy cane next to the computer. Argh.*

*Somewhere here, if my computer didn't have a virus** and I wasn't having to email this post in, I would link to the last post about being frustrated because of the candy cane hiding from me when I needed it.

**And I would like here to the post about the virus my computer has and why I'm emailing posts in.

Frustrated

Current frustrations:

Baby X still wakes up a bunch during the night. Usually it's spaced so it's betwee 4-6 hours when he'd normally be eating. So while he does sleep from 8 PM until between 6-8 AM, eating-wise, he treats nighttime like daytime.

Princess Sparkley wakes me up at least once a night, usually during my REM sleep when I can't wake up enough to function. Her reasons are always: needs water, needs a tissue, is scared, needs a light on/a door open, etc. This has been going on for over a week and is driving me nuts.

M&M changed their Mint M&Ms from small, plain M&M sizes to the peanut butter M&M size. This does not bode well for my Chocolate chocolate chip cookies - Christmas style.*

Hannah Montana. Just because Princess Sparkley is 6 and obsessed with her even though she's only seen part of an episode once at Grandma's and part of an episode, with no sound, while we ate dinner at Pizza Street.

Colds. I keep getting them. And then they clear up and I get another one.

I can't get all three of my kids to smile and look at the camera at the same time.

Princess Sparkley has attitude. She's 6. Isn't she still supposed to be sweet and innocent and nice.

I had to scrounge together enough candy canes to make candy cane bark tonight to drop off to some people tomorrow and I only had like 5 of those tiny ones people had given to us. So I made it and it's fine, but now I just spotted one more tiny candy cane next to the computer... I could have used that!**

People who aren't responsible/dependable. I've always been pretty dependable. It was what teachers at school and church always wrote about me when they had to say something nice about me. I hated it then. Now I'm frustrated that other adults aren't.


*Search for it in my blog, the recipe is posted like two years ago. Mmmmm.
**Search for candy cane bark and you'll find my recipe.

Infected

Well... I'm attempting the "email a post" option for blog posting. Our trusty laptop, TinaSparkle, has been infected with an adware virus so if it's online, a new ad pops up every 5 seconds. And they aren't the kind of ads you'd expect. One is for Glad ziploc bags. Weird. Anyways, until that is fixed I'm (shhhh) using Princess Sparkley's virtual school issued laptop. We use it for her school, but other than that, I try to stick to just check my email, the weather, and maybe the news on it. I don't know if they have a way to see what we're accessing on it, but they indicated that it was just to be used for her school. It's only been a day and I'm already going through blog reading and Facebook denial. Not to mention checking on the status of Christmas packages that Amazon.com is shipping me, ebay bidding, bill paying online, and I took a ton of pictures of the kids today for our Christmas cards and not only can I not post the crazy ones for you all to see, I don't know how to actually go into a store with my camera disc and do anything about it. I always just order the prints online and pick them up later on. Who knew how dependent on technology I had become. Especially since it hates us.*


*If I was logged into blogger and knew what I was doing, I would create a like to a long ago post about how Jed and I (but especially Jed) is convinced that technology and more specifically electronics, are out to get us. They break for us all the time. Also, if I was logger into blogger, I would have this asterisked section in a smaller font.

Friday, December 05, 2008

PJs under the Tree

Normally my kids get PJs as one of their Christmas Eve presents. This is leftover from my own family traditions growing up. But I'm working on Christmas cards, and I'm thinking a picture of the kids all decked out in their holiday PJs would be a nice addition to our Christmas letter. So, I'm thinking they'll be photographed in their PJs and then the PJs will magically disappear again until Christmas Eve. Is this horrible of me?

Yummy to my Tummy

I've been making Candy Cane Bark every year at Christmas time since my husband quit his job in California, and his connection with a woman there who made candy cane bark for everyone each year. Luckily we got her recipe. Today I came across this today at Natalie's blog, a yummy variation... white chocolate dipped peppermint sticks.

Gift Ideas

It's great gifts like this that ruin my resolve to finish my Christmas shopping early so I'll stop spending money.


Kids' Tool Set from Restoration Hardware on sale for $26.99



Plush stuffed animals like this one at BabyStyle... mostly on sale for $13.99



If I was rich, felt like spending this much money, and my dad wore necklaces, this Ballpark Pendant Necklace from Red Envelope would be perfect. It is a piece of the original painted seat from one of America's historic ballparks (six choices).


These All-terrain Ballet Flats from Landsend are just $29.50.



These adorable slippers are $34.95 at LLBean.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Naps

I for one am a fan of napping. I would take a nap everyday if I could... or maybe just sleep in until 10 (ahh, the days of being a lazy kid in summertime). My kids have never been big on napping. Princess Sparkley gave up naps fairly early on, as did Buddy. I remember being shocked when I found out the kids of my friends who were the same ages as my kids still napped. It had been so long since my kids had taken naps, I didn't realize it was still a possibility that kids that old napped. Baby X is no where near giving up on naps, but his naps this week have stunk. We got into a pretty good patter of napping for 1-2 hours before taking Princess Sparkley to school in the afternoon, and napping for another 1 1/2 -2 hours after we picked her up. Not so this week. For instance, it's 4:50 here in Kansas, I put him bed a little later than normal because we'd had to run to the grocery store after pickign PS up. I fed him a bottle and put him in bed. He was quiet for abou2 minutes, then started making little noises, then started screaming. When I finished the brownie batter I was mixing for tonight's church activity and put it in the oven, I went up to check on him. Poopy. So I change his diaper and put him back in bed. He screams again. And just now, at 4:50 he's asleep. His nap is supposed to be over at 5. Yuck! Meanwhile, the big kids have knocked over the Christmas tree we just put up and decorated last night. Argh.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Whipping Cream



Okay, so I've never figured out what recipe I bought whipping cream for. Instead I'm making these today. Oatmeal Cream Pies. Yum!

Self-Portrait

While it's true that I'm in almost none of my pictures, I'm sort of liking it that way. Mostly, if you looked through the photo files on my computer (since we don't actually have hard copies of almost any pictures these days, slacker that I am) you'd think our kids were raising themselves since it's just a gazillion pictures of them on their own.

My friend Rachel is doing 365 days of self-portraits that are so beautiful they put anyone else to shame. And her friend, whose blog I stalk, Jen, challenged* us all to take a self-portrait. My first attempts were pathetic and immediately sent to the recycle bin on my computer. Today I put my hair in two braids simply because I'm sick of my hair, and then when I was hiding Christmas presents last night I came across this funky hat my mom bought me last year because it "looked like you" and I haven't worn it yet. It worked with what I was wearing and my hairstyle, so I tried it on. Then I thought that the corner of hat and my one eyeball I could see in the rearview mirror as I drove Princess Sparkley to school looked pretty cool, so I came home and gave the self portrait a second attempt. This is the only one I'll share.




*Ahh! Just going to their blogs in order to get their weblinks forced me to have to see their fabulously beautiful selves and have second thoughts about all of this self-portrait stuff, as far as me being the "self."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Still looking...

So, since it wasn't this recipe... I'm still trying to find out what recipe I bought my half pint of heavy whipping cream for. It's driving me crazy. AND it expired yesterday!!! Ahh.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Okay, so I finally got around to making these muffins I've been wanting to try. I went in with high hopes, got skeptical in the middle, and was greatly pleased with the final product. Unfortunately, as I was pulling the last batch out of the oven I realized this is NOT the recipe I bought the heavy whipping cream for. I hate when I'm scatterbrained. Not only do I not remember which recipe the heavy whipping cream is for, I also made a completely different recipe, all the way through, instead of looking to make sure this was the right recipe. Oh well, these are delicious. Make sure you have a tall glass of milk nearby though.

Oh, and the smell. I wish I could capture the smell of my kitchen right now and post it for you. It smells so yummy and peanut buttery. Mmm.


Recipe and better pictures here.

Here are my notes on the recipe:

I used less salt - it calls for 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. I never put in as much salt as a recipe calls for. I used a little less than 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.

Vanilla yogurt - I didn't have a cup of sour cream. I had approximately 3/4 cup sour cream. And a sleeping baby. And I'd already been to the store today. And the batter was mixed and the oven was preheated. So, I also didn't have plain yogurt, which is a good sour cream substitute, instead I used about 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt. It seems to have worked out okay.

I set the timer for 15 minutes and started checking them then until the full 20 minutes just to be safe.

The batter is really thick... like a gooey cookie dough more than a batter. So it didn't rise much for me in the muffin tins. Luckily I took all of that into account and filled my muffin cups almost all the way full so the little bit they did rise finished it off to perfection.

Princess Sparkley's review: These are really good. I wish they were cupcakes.

I'm home

It only took two hours longer than it was supposed to, which isn't horrible, since it was all traffic, not bad weather. But we were only four hours away... so two more hours made the trip 1.5 times as long as it was supposed to be. Yuck. It snowed, but not enough to cause bad driving conditions, so I'm thankful for that.

Now I have to:
Unpack.
Do Laundry.
Shower.
Get ready.
Do Princess Sparkley's homeschool work.
Take her to regular school.
Pay a bill at the grocery store.
Grocery shop for the essentials: milk, bread, diapers.
Figure out what to eat for dinner.
Get loads of mail out of our tiny little mailbox.
Hide Christmas presents we bought and that Grandma sent home with us.
Make something with the heavy whipping cream I bought last week and expires today.
Find recipe I was planning to use the heavy whipping cream in.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins... maybe?
Find other heavy whipping cream recipes since it's more than enough for one recipe.
Maybe my oatmeal cream pie cookies?
Bake.
Catch up on over 100 blog posts I ignored all week/weekend.
Blog.
Nap.
Read.
Eat.
Feed kids.
Etc.


To tide you over while I do all that:

The kids wanted to climb on the roof while grandpa put up the Christmas lights. Jed decided to go up and let them be on the roof for a couple minutes. No one fell... hooray!




Cahokia Mounds. Collinsville, IL
(Enlarge and you can see the St. Louis Arch in the background of the center picture.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pie



I finally remembered to take a picture of this pie when I made it. This was one of the four pies I made at my in-laws. This, two regular yummy pumpkin pies and a pecan pie that is actually really tasty considering I don't like pecan pie.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey and Me


image from igourmet.com

Here's the deal, I hate turkey. For some reason this really bothers people. I'm cool if you hate some foods... not peanut butter, but other foods. Like brussel sprouts. Or spinach. I even like spinach and it's totally okay if you don't. So why do you all freak out when I say I hate turkey? When Jed and I were first married this was a huge deal for his mom around the holidays... what was she going to feed me?? I think I've finally convinced her that I'll survive on the other 30 tons of food served up at holiday meals. Especially because stuffing, potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie are among my favorite foods... right up there with Peanut Butter M&Ms.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Road Trip


Princess Sparkley and Buddy at the St. Louis Zoo studying their zoo maps instead of the baby elephant. ---Oct. 2007

We're map people. Thanks to Jed who is King of the Map People... if such people existed. We have a four hour drive to get to grandma and grandpa's house. They've figured out that asking if we are there yet bugs mom and dad. Instead, about every ten minutes, Buddy asks us what city we are in. Creative, still annoying.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Confession: I'm a nose breather

I'm a nose breather. This means that right now, with a cold, my nose is stuffed and my mouth is hanging open as I desperately try to stay alive based on the air my mouth can suck in alone. It feels weird to me. I can't explain it in any other way except for saying "I'm a nose breather." Breathing through my mouth is possible, but it's like a chore that I have to remember to do. My saving grace last night was my son's nose spray I bought for him a few weeks ago when he had a stuffy nose. I tried it last night and it was like a miracle. But I used it earlier today and I don't know where I put it and so I'm afraid that when I fall asleep my brain will stop remembering to breath through my mouth and I will die. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, I'm probably dead. Actually, you probably won't hear from me tomorrow, but not because I'm dead, because it's the day before Thanksgiving and life is busy PEOPLE! Say that in Junie B. Jones voice.*

*My kids are currently obsessed with Junie B. Jones, Katie Kazoo Switcheroo, Clementine, and Judy Moody books read aloud on cd. Junie B. Jones, hilarious, but a bit naughty. Jed and I have found that all of us, kids and adults, have started phrasing words and emphasizing sentences like we're Junie B. Jones, PEOPLE. (Except I'm not actually supposed to go there anymore!" - direct Junie B. Jones quote I heard from the other room as I was about to hit "Publish Post.")

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Today was the Grandparents' Day Fall Party at my daughter's school and I signed up to bring baked goods. I've made this recipe once or twice before and it's a yummy, fall treat. I'm giving you my amended recipe, where the batter is 1 1/2 times the original recipe. Even following this today, I was too generous with the batter on the first dozen muffins and found myself scraping the bowl for every last tidbit of batter to finish off the second dozen decently.


Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

adjusted from a Country Living (Sept. 2004) recipe

Ingredients:

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)

4 eggs

3 ½ cups sugar

3 ½ cups flour

¼ cup pecans (roughly chopped)

3 TBSP butter (melted)

3 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

2 ¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin

1/3 + 1/6 cup vegetable oil

¾ tsp. vanilla



Directions:

Heat oven to 375. Lightly coat 2 – 12 cup muffin tins with oil (or line with muffin liners). Mix the cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 TBSP. sugar in a small bowl; set aside. Toss 5 TBSP. sugar, ½ cup flour, pecans, butter and ½ tsp. cinnamon together in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine the remaining 3 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 3 tsp. cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. Lightly beat 3 eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the pumpkin mixture in and mix with a fork until moistened. Evenly divide batter in half. Fill muffin cups with about 2 TBSP. batter. Place about 2 tsp. of cream cheese fillling in center of each cup and fill with remaining batter. Sprinkle some of pecan mixture on top and bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean; about 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Makes 2 dozen muffins.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Facebook had me at hello...

So, I used to be really opposed to MySpace and Facebook. I had a MySpace account for my ten year high school reunion and I found a few friends that way. But I only found like 12 people I knew and wanted as my "friends." I joined Facebook at a class where I was teaching ladies at church about blogging and a friend was talking about Facebook. I didn't have an account and it was easiest to start from scratch, so she set up an account for me. I have found long lost high school friends, college roommates, professors, etc. People I've been trying to track down forever. I'm obsessed. And I'm obsessed with Facebook flair. You know, flair, like all those pins the waiters at TGI Fridays have. They are all so funny. Anyways, this is the funniest one I've seen lately (ie: today). And you sort of have to have read Twilight* to get it and it helps to have seen the movie as well. But when this scene in the movie happened, I thought, "was that in the book? It doesn't fit."




*It's sort of funny how huge Twilight has gotten. I read it when it first came out because Stephenie Meyer is LDS and went to BYU and I'm up on all those writers because I wish I was them. Of course I was skeptical about a book dealing with a teenage/vampire love story, but I read it, enjoyed it and tried to pass the word along. Mostly everyone thought I was nuts. At the time my book club was talking about possibly reading Dracula, I mentioned Twilight as a fun book about vampires. They all thought I was nuts. Now they've all read the whole series are are more obsessed than me. Funny.

Cities We Could End Up In

Jed loves geography. He makes maps as his job. And for fun. Before we moved to Kansas we each went through the fifty states and ranked them in order of how much we'd want to live in each state. We're crazy, I know. Then we figured out which states were most agreeable to both of us. Then the other day Jed mentioned that there are probably only five more major moves in us. Really!?! That's like saying we're almost done having kids. I mean, it just seems like a huge commitment to me. I'm not sure I'll know where I want to settle down in that many more moves. Yikes. I'm feeling pressure here.

Next July we will make move number one. Here are the high contender cities/states in no particular order:

Lawrence, KS
St. Louis, MO
Philidelphia, PA
Boston, MA
metro DC
Indiana
Milwaukee, WI
Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois
Tennessee
Houston, TX

Review: Twilight the movie

I went into the movie with very low expectations. I hadn't really watched any movie trailers, but had seen official photos of the cast (like the one above) and I wasn't happy. I have a very vivid imagination as I read, sometimes the characters I picture match the character in the book more in personality than in appearance. That's how Twilight was for me. Bella was supposed to be beautiful, but not as beautiful as a vampire. Edward is supposed to be gorgeous, but not scary gorgeous. The vampires just looked too... unreal. But it's sort of a fantasy genre book/movie, so I guess I'll have to accept that.

This all being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I went with a group of friends and we were all surprised by how funny it was. Bella's clumsiness. The awkwardness between Bella and Edward when they first meet. The theater filled with laughter a lot more than any of us expected. And the characters of Edward and Bella really grew on me. Emmett was hilarious as was Rosalie. Alice didn't have as big a role in this movie but was cute. Jasper was funny and a bit weird. James and Victoria were wonderfully cast. As was Bella's dad, Charlie. I loved Bella's dad.

I thought the cameo of Stephenie Meyer was a bit cheesey and over the top obvious, but when I mentioned this to two of my friends on the ride home, they hadn't even noticed it, so I guess not.

Overall, I was very happy with this movie. It was good. I suppose it was worth the $8.75 I spent, although when I figured it out before the movie, this is only the third movie I've seen in a movie theater since we moved to Kansas over three years ago. And one of the other two was Cars. So I guess I was overdue for a little splurge in the movie going department. And I'll watch this again, especially since I just read that the second book just got picked up by the same movie company, so I'll have to watch Twilight again to prepare for the release of the new movie. I'm not crazy enough to read the books again, I'm too busy for that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brrr it's cold!

It seems like our summer lasted into a warmish fall and then fall was very brief and the colorful leaves were all gone and the trees were just skeletons. Like most days, I checked weather.com this morning to see the forecast (my kids are looking forward to snow, it was in our forecast last week but didn't happen, I am not looking forward to snow at all). This morning... at 8:20 Kansas time, it's 16 degrees. SIXTEEN DEGREES! When I moved to Kansas I assumed it would be like my college days in Utah, that being the only other experience I had living in a location that actually experienced a true winter. Kansas is much much colder and much much icier. But then again, I didn't have access to weather.com each morning back in college. I did call our local bank's time and weather hotline but it rarely got anywhere close to the teens. Am I remembering Utah wrong?

I just want to crawl back into my warm bed and hibernate until April or so.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Now, on to Christmas...

I felt bad writing about Christmas when Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet*, so I posted these Thanksgiving crafts. And now that Thanksgiving has been discussed, no matter how briefly, we are moving forward. Christmas. It's like I'm Target... except wait, it's way past September.

As Jed and my families have grown, we've become more and more creative about how to do family gift exchanges. For awhile we drew names out of an adult name hat and a kid name hat with my family. The past couple years we've just had cousins draw cousins, so only a kid hat.

With Jed's family we bought a Christmas ornament for each family one year. And last year we started buying a Christmas book for each family. We all liked this tradition and plan on continuing it for a few years.

Back to my family, what should we do this year? They are leaning towards each family buys one gift for each other family (I only have two siblings, so this isn't so big of a deal). And we'd pick some sort of theme. For example, the theme could be "outdoors" and someone could buy our family a sled or something. I don't know. These were the ideas handed down to me.

What does your family do? Do you have any good theme suggestions like the "outdoors" one above? Any other marvelous ideas for Christmas gift exchanges?


*My kids keep asking why houses and stores aren't decorated for THanksgiving since everyone decorates for Halloween and Christmas. I just keep telling them people are so excited about Christmas decorating they just skip right over Thanksgiving. Hopefully it's not that no one is giving thanks.

Thanksgiving Crafts

Check out all the Thanksgiving crafts here at The Crafty Crow. The above is my favorite.



And then there is this at Plum Pudding.





And this fun twist on the classic traced hand turkey.


And don't forget these adorable turkey cookies.

Hiding from the Kids

I just had to hide the bowl of Reese's Puffs (our fun, weekend only cereal) I'm eating for breakfast so the kids didn't see it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writing

I guess I like to think that the fact that I like to write, dream of writing a book, and always have, is a secret from all of you. When I first started this blog forever ago, I mentioned it, but back then, few of you read my blog. When I started this blog, I only told a handful of people that I had a blog. I didn't even tell my own mother. Since then you've all wandered in and found me by some means or another. Even my mother secretly spies on my blog. But I started this because I enjoy writing and it was a fun way to keep in touch with friends I'd sort of fallen out of touch with. And to write, of course. But since then, this has sort of evolved from a blog of me writing, to a blog about everything I love (desserts, candy, sewing, books, kids, etc.). So when I mentioned rather quickly the other day that I had been working on a story idea, I was surprised how all of you picked up on that so quickly. I thought I'd said/typed it fast enough, and I wasn't too important, that you'd all just skim over it and be done reading. Not so.

Jed and I are constantly amazed by how out there people are with their life goals, dreams and aspirations. I think I've always been private about these things. As has he. So I don't think we've influenced each other, but I'm sure we haven't helped the other be more open or vocal either. He fears telling people where he really wants to go for grad school, along with all sorts of other things. I try to avoid mentioning that I like to write. So when we come across people who boldly put out there the fact that they are writing a novel, we're a bit embarrassed for them. (Forgive me if you are one of these people.)

For instance, (do you like how I threw this new paragraph in there just to make this post look shorter since the paragraphs are all basically brief?) the other day we were shopping at the totally awesome toy store in our town's fun downtown area. As we were leaving, a man named James with a "Y," or more truthfully, Jaymes, stopped us. He'd had a class with Jed a few semesters ago, hence me knowing who "James with a Y" was when we were introduced. In the 1 1/2 minute conversation we had, he mentioned that he's writing a novel. Maybe he felt comfortable telling me because really, what are the chances that we'll see each other again (although I do love that toy store... if only I had a million dollars to spend there) and he wasn't worried about the embarrassment when he failed at said novel writing. Or maybe that's just how some people are. I guess maybe he doesn't even think failure is an option. Novel concept. I am not that way. So while I secretly still desire to write the next great American novel, keep it under your hat. Thanks. :)


On another note, Jed, who is a cartographer/mapmaker by profession, but not as a student, recently had some maps he made published in this book* that a former professor of his just published. Yea for Jed!

*The description says three maps, there are actually four... all Jed's. And he gets an acknowledgement at the book's start as well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yummiest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (aka what I've been living off of for days)

A good friend and possibly the kindest person I've ever known makes me these cookies every Fall. I finally got the recipe from her this year. They are yummy and make a lot.

According to my husband, they are kind of weird and taste better the second day.

Princess Sparkley loves loves loves them. But I'm not sure her taste in food is really trustworthy.

Buddy likes them okay, but again, he didn't inherit the sweet tooth the rest of us have.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 14 oz can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
2 tsp vanilla

5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

3/4 cup applesauce

1 bag chocolate chips


Directions:
Cream shortening, sugar and egg. Combine dry ingredients. Add half of dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Add applesauce. Add remainder of dry mix. Mix well. Add chocolate chips. It will be sticky. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.

Telling Time

I've had the same Fossil watch that I got from my parents for Christmas one year long before I was married. It has to be at least 9 or 10 years old. I love it. I can't live without it. I've worn a watch essentially every day of my life since I was 10 or so. I must have a watch on or I feel naked.

For our first anniversary, I bought Jed a watch because 1) a watch is a nice one year anniversary gift, and 2) the main reason, I couldn't understand how a person could function without a watch. It was unfathomable to me.

More recently, I had a friend who didn't own a watch, a cell phone, and had no working clock in her car. She could tell whether or now she was on-time or running late based on the bank time and temperature signs she drove past. Luckily our town has an over abundance of banks, many of which have a time and temperature sign, so she was never too far from a clock. But still? I nearly bought her a watch just to give me a peace of mind.

Last Thursday my watch broke. I've had the battery die many times and have been without a watch for a day or two until I could get a new battery put in. But the clasp came detached from the face of the watch. I'm hoping it can be fixed. I could handle a new watch... but no watch. Yikes.

For the past few days, thanks to Princess Sparkley's generosity, I've been sporting this lovely watch:


Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall Cleaning

Baby X is proving he really is the troublemaker in our family. First he started with his bum heart. Then he moved on to rolling over at three months. Crawling early. Standing early. Walking along furniture early. Now he sticks every tiny itsy bitsy thing he finds into his mouth. More recently he's discovered my cupboards. His favorite is pulling out my box of spices and sucking on them. The other day he spilled oregano all over himself. Plus, I'm pretty sure some of those spicier spices aren't going to taste good to his delicate palette.

Along with his troublemakerness, I can't get anything done with him around. Homeschooling has become difficult because every two seconds I have to jump up and retrieve something else from his mouth. A screw. A piece of paper. A rubberband. Etc. And stuff like filing away paid bills and other little household tasks that just keep the house in relative order, have become impossible. The dishwasher... his best friend.

So today I put baby locks on all of our kitchen cupboards. This is something that we only did on medicine cupboards and under the sink in the past. When we moved to our current home Buddy was 17 months old, yet I never had to baby proof the cupboards, just the stairs.

As I type, Baby X is napping and I have the two big kids doing my dirty work. They are sorting through this enormous box, from my side of the bed (that was starting to threaten tripping me over in the middle of the night), of their artwork (with other things scattered into the mix- ie: Baby X's blessing certificate, Baby X's 6 month pictures, etc.) so I can file the good stuff away in each of the file folders I keep for their milestone artwork (which has turned into everything we can't convince them to throw away). That was a long, probably grammatically incorrect sentence. Oh well. Baby X only sleeps so long. I've got a lot to do.

No Spilt Milk Reward Incentive

Before we moved to Kansas, my husband worked for the city government in the California city we lived in. They had a no injuries at work reward program in place. If they went 90 days without a work related injury (which didn't happen often because the streets division was in his department and they worked with heavy equipment), they earned ice cream.

Today Buddy spilled his milk. As I cleaned it up, I thought, "we haven't spilt milk in quite awhile, we should have a reward or something for going so long without spilling milk." But then I don't want to punish them for spilling their milk. As frustrating as it is (we have carpet under our table), I have to remind myself that, according to my own mother, I spilt my milk at one meal every day for about a year of my life when I was three years old. So every time I get angry and frustrated at my kids for this, I follow it up by telling them about me as a three year old to help make them laugh and soften my angry response.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Mother's Paranoia

When Princess Sparkley was born I was not only new at the whole being a mom thing, I was new to kids in general. Up until my first nephew was born when I was 18, I hadn't so much liked other people's kids. I hated babysitting and only did it when I felt too guilty not to, or if my mom convinced me I should. So Princess Sparkley was a shock to my system.

When she was a newborn I was terrified of her being kidnapped. I'm guessing it had something to do with the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping that happened just a couple months before Princess Sparkley was born. I would just worry and worry. I can remember thinking "there's no way I went through all of that [labor, birthing, etc.] to have someone kidnap her. " This was very soon after she was born and I was still recovering from an enormously long and painful labor and delivery.

When Buddy was born, I wasn't as concerned about him being kidnapped. I know I worried, but not about anything specific. Probably I just worried that I was going to lose my mind with two kids so close in age (Princess Sparkley and Buddy are 20 1/2 months apart). At one point, Jed called from work to see how I was doing and I'd just changed the 7th poopie diaper in a row, alternating between the two kids. Ahhh.

With Baby X, Jed and I both worry that he'll die. Not because of his heart... well, yes because of his heart, that is a worry. But mostly we worry that he'll have survived his heart problem, had this procedure to fix it, be doing so well, and then die of something totally avoidable like choking on a Cheerio or suffocating under a blanket. I woke up this morning panicked because it was 6:30 AM and I hadn't heard from him since I'd put him in bed at 8 or 8:30 PM. He was fine, of course. But I lay in bed for a minute convincing myself that when I got up to look in his crib he'd be cold and unmoving. Does any other mom do this to herself??
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