"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, August 30, 2008

Pencil Collection


image from Lillian Vernon

I almost forgot the best part of Jed's pencil collection. Princess Sparkley and Buddy were born while he worked at this job that collected pencils. So instead of cigars or candy bars with birth announcements on them, we ordered personalized pencils in pink and then blue with the names of our newborn babies printed on them and Jed handed them out at work for everyone to add to their pencil collections. I thought that was fun. And I feel a bit bad that we didn't do it for Baby X. But then Jed didn't work at the same job. And we'd have been stuck with two dozen pencils or so. And then there was the whole indecision of what Baby X's name would be. We knew months ahead of time with Princess Sparkley and Buddy what their names would be. So we ordered the pencils well in advance so they could be handed out very soon after they were born... pink and then blue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Report: Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins


Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a
Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic
by Emily Jenkins

Growing up, it was my dad who read night time stories with me. I think it was my mom's way of making sure there was quality father/daughter time every night since she was home all day while he was at work. I've sort of continued this tradition, having my husband read stories to the kids each night. Plus he's just better at it.

But I saw this book at the toy store the other day and it looked cute so when I saw that my library had it on its new books shelf, I grabbed it (reaching my limit of 50 books checked out). And it was so cute sounding that I've been reading it to them. We've read 3 of the 6 stories. My favorite was the one where Plastic searches all over for what type of habitat he's from, what he likes to eat, etc. The StingRay, sort of a know-it-all, tells him that plastics live where it's cold and are very furry. Plastic replies, "I'm not very furry." To which StingRay says, "You probably lost all of your fur in an accident." And then "Plastic tries to remember a fur-losing accident, but it must have slipped her mind." Finally, TukTuk the towel (Buddy's favorite character) informs Plastic that she's a ball named Plastic. Not a plastic. It's very cute.

I might be enjoying this book more than my kids, I almost read ahead last night while they were in bed. But they are liking it too.

And there's a second book coming out in September, Toy Dance Party. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Being A Productive Housewife

Most days I feel like I'm just keeping up with everything. The mess isn't getting worse. It isn't staying stagnant. It's changing, but staying at about the same level of messiness.

This morning I woke up and stood at my kitchen sinking peeling and slicing peaches for a good bit of time, made a cobbler, froze some peaches for later.

Then I did Princess Sparkley's homeschool work for the day - Language Arts (a Hindu fable about a mouse turning into a tiger) and Phonics (the digraph sh).

Quickly showered and deposited Princess Sparkley at her school. Picked her up. Sewed a pillow for the tooth fairy for when her teeth fall out, fixed Baby X's baby burrito's failing velcro.

I felt like I was having a somewhat productive day. But then I look around at the mess that hasn't gone anywhere while I ignored it. The laundry basket full of clothes I haven't gotten around to folding (Baby X is in full crawling mode and into EVERYTHING.) The piles of stuff on each step waiting to go upstairs. The scattered crayons, feathers, pens, glue sticks and paper that my kids have gotten out, and then abandoned. And I realize my productive day wasn't visibly productive at all.

At least I have a peach cobbler to show for my day. But I baked it so long ago now that it doesn't even make my house smell yummy anymore. And a tooth shaped pillow that's probably already lost in Princess Sparkley's mess of a bed.

Off to be visibly productive. You know, folding some laundry. Moving some piles around. Straightening the mess so it doesn't look so much like a mess.

Ear Infections

I don't think I ever got an ear infection as a child. Maybe as a baby, before I can remember, but in my recollection (which is very very dim) I recall no ear infections. But about fours ago I started getting them every time I was sick. I didn't even know what was wrong. I never go to the doctor, but this time I did. Before having kids, the last time I went to the doctor was when I was eight. Then I went once when we were first married because I had these little white bumps in the back of my throat (which I get all the time, and the doctor I saw explained is just my body fighting a viral infection). Then I went again when I was pregnant with Princess Sparkley and all subsequent pregnancies, etc. And I guess I went to get my knee checked out once because I've inherited my knees from my parents who, collectively, have had three knees replaced and I'm a bit of hypochondriac. But aren't hypochondriacs who rarely go to the doctor the best kind?

Anyways, when I went to the doctor that time about four years ago for a "I'm so sick please give me medicine check-up," it turned out I had a sinus infection and a double ear infection and something else. And ever since then, if I get a bad cold, I can feel it head straight for my ears. It's horrible. And then my husband came home from work or school last week and said a guy he knows was flabbergasted that someone was out with an ear infection because "adults don't get ear infections." That's what I thought. But I was wrong. And he's wrong. Maybe he'll start getting adult ear infections as his punishment for being so unsympathetic of his adult colleague with an ear infection.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Millions Of Peaches, Peaches For Me


image from www.kyagr.com

Thanks to a local "Pick your own" orchard that had free peaches and great friends who picked a ton and gave me some, I have a bucket (not quite a million) peaches. What to do? What to do? I'm thinking that I wouldn't like peach jam. But my husband assures me he'll eat it. I'll of course make my grandma's peach cobbler. And after talking to some friends tonight, I think I'll puree some peaches and freeze them for smoothies and milkshakes later on. What do you do with millions of peaches? Anything that doesn't involve peeling them? That's why they are still sitting on my table, I'm too lazy to peel them.

FYI: Fun young adult book series that takes place on a peach orchard: Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, it's sequel The Secret of Peaches and I just found the third in the series, Love and Peaches comes out in October.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tooth Fairy



image from www.clipsahoy.com

I can think of dozens of things about myself that I don't want to see manifested in my children.

Just one of them. My teeth.

A hereditary trait: I'm missing one of my teeth. I think it's an incisor, maybe a canine. I learned this is hereditary because my mom's Aunt Beulah is missing both of hers and claims "it's a family thing." Princess Sparkley is missing two. Buddy actually has two more teeth than she does. I think he has 20 and she has 18. Or maybe 18 and 16. I don't know, and they are in bed and being quiet so I'm not about to go count them.

A have horribly long teeth roots: I had to have a large number of my baby teeth pulled by the dentist because there was no way they were coming out on their own and he gave them all to me to take home to put under my pillow and even commented on how long some of their roots were. AND, my dentist and orthodontist had a bet on whether some of my teeth would come out on their own or would need to be pulled. Stubborn teeth.

I had a huge gap between my two front teeth. Worse than David Letterman's gap. AND, it had what I lovingly refer to as a waggle. A little "drop" of gum hanging between the teeth. It was lovely. (Heavy sarcasm there in case you didn't catch it). I still have the waggle, it is now hidden behind my two front teeth because after much conferencing (probably while golfing) my dentist and orthodontist decided this was the best route to take. I had to wear braces on just the two front teeth for two years before I got the rest of my braces for another two years. Yuck.

Oh, I haven't even touched on the one canine or incisor that I do have (whose partner is missing), it is a tiny tiny little fang. Also hereditary according to my great aunt Beulah. As soon as my braces came off, and before I was fitted for a retainer (all in high school) I had to go to the dentist and have this freaky little fang covered in some sort of dental, looking like a tooth contraption that my dentist did a crap job of shaping and coloring. I hate it. If I ever remembered that I don't want to smile with my teeth in a picture, it would be due to this tooth.

Why all of these thoughts tonight? I just brushed Princess Sparkley's teeth at bed time (ie: two hours past bedtime) and her bottom two front adult teeth are growing in behind her bottom two front baby teeth. Hello? This is why I took her to the dentist like three weeks ago. To avoid this. This very situation. And when did this happen? I'll admit we are kind of slackers on the whole tooth brushing craze. (Craze? Like it's a craze. It's not really a craze, it's good hygiene. And common sense.) The kids get their teeth brushed on a regular basis. At least once a day. (That's where we slack). And we usually still help them both. I'm trying to remember who brushed Princess Sparkley's teeth last night. Me? Her? Jed? Did they just pop through today? Did she feel anything? Did no one notice they were there last night or the night before? It's crazy. It's like she's a shark growing two rows of teeth.

So tomorrow I have to call the dentist. Argh. We went a few weeks ago because 1) I was really worried about this happening once I realized that most kids start losing their teeth in kindergarten and first grade and Princess Sparkley was starting first grade. And I knew about my own long root, tooth pulling history and the fact that she's already inherited a bunch of stuff, especially crazy teeth, from me. And, 2) she was way overdue for a dentist appointment since kids are supposed to start going when they are 3 years old and they are supposed to go every 6 months. She'd been once and was about 5 visits behind. Buddy had never been.

Night Owl

I'm a night owl. I always have been. I base the "always have been" on the fact that my mom signed me up for afternoon preschool when I was four. I assume it was due to nightowlness, but maybe I just wasn't a morning person. But in my book, in probably yours, night owls are not morning people.

I married a night owl. Possibly worse than me. And he's occassionally an insomniac... so even worse than me. Especially since because I became a mom, I can almost instantly fall asleep at any given opportunity as long as I can tune out the thousands of things I need to do working their way through my mind. But usually I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep just thinking of all the other things I should be doing.

Here is where being a night owl is bad. It's affects upon my kids... the older two who have become night owls of their own, Princess Sparkley especially. Example: It's 9:39 PM, 1 hour and 39 minutes past their bedtime, and they are higher than kites, louder than stampeding elephants, and going faster and longer than the Energizer Bunny while they watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. They've reached a creative peak for the day so I hate to bring it to a close, plus I have a sore throat so I don't want to have to yell. Which it may come down to.

The other thing about being a night owl that is bad... being a part of the normal world of young moms and other normal human beings. I had to be at a church activity last weekend that started at 9 AM and I had to get there early. At 9 AM I am usually still in PJs, barely awake, definitely not showered. I often agree to do all sort so things at 9 in the morning: doctor's appointments, visiting teaching visits, meetings, car mechanic drop offs, etc. I do it because I realize that I should be awake and functioning at that early morning hour, but I'm not. And it isn't until I realize the night before that I actually need to set my alarm because there is no way any of my kids, or myself, will wake up on our own to be ready to leave the house before 9 AM that I think about how crazy I'm being trying to turn this night owl into a morning bird. And not even an EARLY morning bird.

Meltdown

The town we live in has a really cool downtown area with lots of shops, restaurants, etc. It's usually fairly crowded, especially so at night. And on a weekend night. And super especially on the first weekend after college classes started. We've been promising our kids for awhile that we'd take them to get ice cream at one of the five shops in the downtown area. We had a coupon. It expired at the end of the month, so we went Saturday night. We got there and it was packed, so Jed elected to stay outside with Baby X and the stroller, leaving me to go inside with the two big kids and order our ice creams. They were a little disappointed because normally I'd hold them up and we'd walk down the counter looking at all the ice cream choices, but with a huge line and only one parent, I just had to read them their options from the wall menu. When their ice cream was ready I handed it over to them and sent them to a table to sit down while I ordered Jed and my ice creams. When I turned to look at them as I walked toward the cash register, Princess Sparkley was looking at me for help because her ice cream had fallen off of her cone. I made hand gestures at her that to me meant "pick up the ice cream and place it back on the cone." I paid, grabbed some napkins and turned around to head to their table. Princess Sparkley was holding an ice cream cone in one hand that she was crunching her way through, and a melting scoop of ice cream in the other hand, which she was occasionally licking. Apparently, my all too clear sign language of "pick up the ice cream and place it back on the cone," was not at all clear to a 6 year old who thought I was telling her to hold the ice cream in her hand. Ahhh. And the people at the next table were quietly giggling at the situation. I had to try really hard to keep my cool as I was already frustrated with the whole ice cream buying, crowded, single parent situation of it all. But I wish I had a camera as she held a melty, pink scoop of ice cream dripping down one hand and a half eaten cone in the other.

This Is The Way The Baby Grows . . .


Baby X weeks 1-30

see more alligator pics here and here

Test Kitchen



So I tried out this Martha Stewart Surprise Cookie Recipe this weekend. It was pretty good, I mean, I ate a ton and all, but a little too rich for me. I'm more of a milk chocolate lover than really rich chocolate. I loved the idea of it all though... the chocolate cookie, the soft chewy marshmallow and the soft frosting on top. Yum. My husband wished the cookie wasn't so dry and crumbly. He wanted them to be chewier... he's thinking along the lines of a cake box cookie*. He greatly enjoyed the batter as well.

*Which, by the way, is one of the biggest reasons people come to my blog according to statcounter.com and Google Analytics.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Collections



I blogged about collections and souvenirs the other day and totally forgot what is probably one of the most creative, cheapest, kid friendly things to collect as souvenirs. PENCILS. Sadly, this pencil collection* belongs to neither of my kids. It's my husband's. When he was working for the City of Camarillo in California, his department had a tradition that whenever someone went on vacation, they brought back a pencil for everyone in their department. It was usually somewhere between 16-20 pencils, and the pencils were always well under a dollar. Thus was born Jed's pencil collection, that we've continued. You can even read part of the red one that says "On the Prairie" for DeSmet, SD: The Little Town on the Prairie from our last family trip. I'm actually surprised that everywhere we go on vacation we're able to find a pencil.

*This isn't even the whole collection, there are more in another mug.

Fancy Brownies


image scanned in from the Delightful Desserts Pampered Chef Cookbook



my own photo of my own, not as artistically pleasing, but just as yummy, brownies

I like this recipe for two reasons:

1. It's chocolate and peanut butter.

2. It's really simple, basically just a brownie mix, but it seems much fancier and more involved.


Triple Layer Brownies
from The Pampered Chef

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
1 cup old-fashioned (or quick) oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (19-21 oz.) brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
3/4 semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Directions:
Preheat to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 casserole dish with Pam. Chop peanuts and combine them with oats, brown sugar, flour and baking soda. Add melted butter. Press into the bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake 8 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare brownie mix according to box directions. Gently spoon batter over partially baked crust; carefully spreading to edges. Bake according to box directions for brownies (28-30 minutes). Cool completely.

Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter and microwave, on high, uncovered for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly over cooled brownies. Sprinkle with additional chopped peanuts if desired. Cut into bars or squares. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator (which I didn't do, but our only lasted about 36 hours).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Money Laundering



What is up with American money? I feel like I'm constantly getting tricked into accepting fake money from ATMs and cashiers because I have no idea what my own country's money is supposed to look like because the US Treasury keeps changing the appearance of not only our bills, but our coins.

Today I pulled a nickel (at least I think it's a nickel) out of my kids' money reward cup and it had a ship on the back!!! When did our nickels start having ships on the back of them? After closer inspection, it says "Lewis and Clark" which makes the whole ship on the nickel thing seem vaguely familiar. But seriously, if I was in the money laundering business, now would be the time to do it. I have no idea what my country's money is supposed to look like, and there are like three different versions of five dollar bills out right now that are accepted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading Frenzy

I can tell when I'm in the midst of a huge reading frenzy. Princess Sparkley has been in school for four days, and each day as I'm sitting in the car waiting to pick her up, I've had a different book with me to read.

Friday's book: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Monday's book: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Tuesday's book: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Today's book: Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Awesome Websites


I've posted a link to this Baby Name Wizard website before. I love this website and the book that goes with it.


Here are two more websites that are sort of similar with their cool interactive graphs.


Design Mom posted this link after seeing it on her sister's blog:



And after I showed Jed that website, since he's into maps and all, he showed me this similar one about movies. It's pretty cool to look at movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite and Juno, that started out in the box offices really small, and then grew.




I'm just full of awesome websites tonight (and Jed is very helpful). At Princess Sparkley's Back to School Night tonight, her teachers gave us this link to the New York Public Library's Kid Room where you can supposedly watch videos of books, etc. all for free. I'm getting read to explore it right now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Collections and Souvenirs



As a kid I collected keychains. So did my husband. Now we have two large(ish) boxes of key chains that we never look at. But for me at least, they were my souvenirs from family vacations we took. I'd like to do something like this for my kids, but realize that since ours are just sitting in a box that we never look at, it's probably not the most useful collection. Plus, I'm not ready to spill out a bunch of money for a key chain for each of our kids on each of our trips. That can add up fast and I'm not made of money.

My grandma collected spoons. She had so many, but they weren't just spoons from places she'd been, they were spoons from places anyone she knew that knew she collected spoons had ever been. She had spoons from all over the world. It was pretty cool. I inherited a small portion of these when she passed away and have spent the past several years trying to find a wooden spoon display case that I like (it's sort of an old fashioned collection, so the cases aren't quite my style) and also trying to decide if I'm going to continue on with a collection of my own. But if I do, I'm already so far behind. And am I really willing to commit to $4.50 or more to everywhere I go, not to mention the cases to house all the spoons. My grandma ended up with 8 or so cases holding 30-60 spoons each. Do I want to head that way? It seems cool for an old lady, but do 30 (gulp) year olds collect spoons?

We've sort of started a family collection of fridge magnets from the places we go to. One magnet for the whole family. But I usually give in to my kids whining for something for them and let them pick a post card for 20-50 cents. Cheap. Small. They can pick whatever they want. But the postcards get home and are pinned to the wall for a bit, or lost, or destroyed. So I liked this idea from Martha Stewart.

What do you collect? What have you collect? What would you like to collect? What do you buy on trips as your souvenir to bring home?

Kansas

When we first moved to Kansas from California almost three years ago, there were a lot of things that were totally crazy to us. Here are just a few that I've been thinking about again today:

The bugs here are huge, crazy and like nothing I grew up with in California.

And the spiders... so enormous I'm scared to squish them.

Almost no one has a fence around their yard. I guess this is a Midwest thing. You'd never see this in California.

The people taking your order through the crackly speakers at drive-thrus are college students who speak English as their first language so you understand them super clearly.

A ton of people smoke. It's banned all over in California, so not run into as frequently as here.

Everyone has a dog that they drive around wherever they go.

Because we're in a college town, we see the latest trends... you know, the type you see the models on the runway wearing but you don't think anyone in real life would ever wear it. They do if they are a sorority girl.

Back To School

Is it possible to feel homesick for something that is not home... or even a place? I'm homesick for school. Not school. Just the back to school feeling in the air. I guess it's more a nostalgic feeling than a homesickness. I love shopping for school supplies. All the unsharpened pencils, 5-subject spiral notebooks. Backpacks. Lunch boxes. School clothes. I love it. And I miss it.

We live in a college town, and school starts in Thursday, so while I was shopping at Target on Saturday night it was amongst all the college students stocking their dorm rooms, and 18 year olds with mom or dad or the whole family wandering around wondering what they'd need to survive their first time living away from home. I love it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Loving This Blog


www.howtoeatacupcake.blogspot.com

I'm currently loving this blog. From what I can tell, she's just a girl who loves baking just got an entry level job at a bakery and every week she takes a poll to see what kind of cupcake she should make that Tuesday. I'm definitely trying these... I already bought my Crystal Light mix.

Princess Sparkley Goes To School



My husband feels very strongly about homeschooling. I'm sort of on the fence. I want the best of both worlds. I can see that advantages, and sometimes need for homeschooling, but my degree is in secondary education, so I can see the advantages of what we call "regular" schools. I'm sort of getting a bit of both worlds this year.

Princess Sparkley will be attending first grade at a "regular" school for Specials (PE, art and music) as well as History and Science. She's excited. Today was her first day and when I picked her up the first thing she said to me was, "I already have friends."

At home, through a virtual school, I will teach her Phonics/Language Arts while Jed teaches her math. This is the compromise that the three of us have come up with, and right now I'm happy with it.

Busy Busy

This is what I've been doing instead of blogging:


image from www.nbcolympics.com


image from www.amazon.com



recovering laundry wise from our trip




image from www.google.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jilly's Cupcake Bar in St. Louis



For Princess Sparkley's birthday, all the girls (me, grandma, two aunts, 2 cousins) plus Jed, Baby X and Buddy went to Jilly's Cupcake Bar* for cupcakes. Mmmm.

Princess Sparkley and one cousin got Jilly On The Beach. Buddy and I shared a strawberry cheesecake one I don't see on their menu. The littlest cousin got a Missy-licious, based on the book Pinkalicious. Jed got another one I don't see on the menu, a chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake. One aunt tried the Bee Sting and Grandma tried the Chocolate Thunder. I think we all agreed that they were enormous, and quite delicious. They even provided us with a candle and a lighter for Princess Sparkley's and some other restaurant patrons joined in on the singing of "Happy Birthday."

*written up here today.

Mini Caramel Apples


image from familyfun.com

I quickly flipped through the pile of mail that came while we were on vacation and was so excited to see not just bills. My Family Fun magazine arrived as well. And check out this recipe for an adorable back to school treat of mini caramel apples. Yum.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Da da da da duhduhduh Olympics


image from en.beijing2008.cn

I love the Olympics. As a kid, my sister would tape all the women's gymnastic events (and in the Winter Olympics, ice skating) and we'd watch them over and over and over and over again. And again. There are events in the Olympics that I don't even know exist. But then there are the events that I love and could (and sometimes do) watch all day:

Gymnastics
Swimming
Diving
Volleyball
Track and Field

Here are just a few of the Olympians I'm watching:


Melanie Roach a 33 year old Mormon mother of three



image from here
Eric Shanteau was diagnosed with testicular cancer just weeks before the Olympics
(he just came in 2nd in his qualifying heat)



image from here
Jake Gibb is my friend Joanna's cousin


Along with these others.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Princess Sparkley Turns Six


6


My baby girl is six years old today. I can't believe it. Here's a look back at all her birthdays.



Newborn



1



2



3



4



5

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Influence of Cousins

We're in St. Louis with all of Jed's family and this was the scene last night:


Some how running in the rain progressed from this...



to this...



to this...



to this.

So unlike a Princess (except the poses, or course).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Book Report: Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

I saw this book at Borders as well. I like to sort of window shop there I guess. Then a friend recommended it for September's book club... so I checked it out from the library and read it. After all the Little House on the Prairie reading that's been going on at my house, I wasn't too excited about this book. It seems like a fun read, but sometimes I get a bit bored with period books. But once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I either started it Monday night or Tuesday morning (I can't remember) and I finished it Tuesday night. I don't want to ruin it for any of my book club members who frequent my blog, but here's the back cover blurb in my words.

Hattie* is a 16 year old orphan, willed her long lost uncle's homestead claim in Montana in the early 1900s, during World War One. She's living with a friendly distant uncle and his not so friendly wife. She has a friend who is a boy off at war in France. So she boards a train and sets of to be a homesteader. Her narration is added to by letters to her uncle, from her friend off fighting the war, and letters to him along with little articles about homesteading she writes for her hometown newspaper. Hattie works hard, finds a family, friends and herself. I cried. But it isn't difficult to make me do this. I loved this book. I'm wondering if there is a sequel though.

*This book is loosely based on the author's own great grandmother who was a teenager with a homestead claim in Montana in 1914. Finding out about this relative sparked the author's interest in learning more and brought about this fictional narrative.

Book Report: Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion



Queen of the Road:
The true tale of 47 states, 22,000 miles, 200 shoes,
2 cats, 1 poodle, a husband and a bus with a will of its own.
by Doreen Orion

I saw this book as I was walking through Borders several weeks ago. They had a little Borders book club pamphlet about it at their help desk. It looked interesting, so I grabbed one. Then I placed it on hold at the library and waited for it to be ready. It's the story of two psychiatrists who take a year out of their lives, renovate a bus and travel the country. All the husband's idea. In fact, when he told her the idea, she said:
“Why can’t you be like a normal husband with a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” I demanded, adding, “I will never, ever, EVER, not in a million years, live on a bus.”
But she does. And her tale is hilarious. I read a lot of this book aloud to Jed and I think I've convinced him that he should read it.

I liked this book. And it's nonfiction, so that's an even bigger compliment since it's rare for me to really like nonfiction. The following may or may not be a compliment for the book. It was the kind of book I always dream of reading. One that I can read at a leisurely pace, setting down and picking up here and there. I've always wanted to be one of those people that takes a few weeks to read a book, always has it in her bag, reads it here and there, a chapter a night or so. But that's not how I read books. I read them in a day or two or three. Even if I'm slow getting into the book, once I'm in I speed through it. This book was sort of like that. But I liked the casual pace at which I read this book.

This book was interesting. But not only was it interesting, it was funny. Funny and sort of informative. Especially since I have the kind of husband who would totally have this sort of hair brained idea only we'd be keeping track of counties as well.

Read an excerpt here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Strings Attached

Our library, like most libraries I'm sure, has a summer reading program for kids (and adults). The kids read a certain number of books and earn a free book and a bunch of coupons for free stuff around town. The thing is, I can't stop thinking that these businesses donated free coupons figuring they'd get business out of it. And I feel bad going to a store to get our two free things (one for Buddy, one for Princess Sparkley) so I'm pressured into buying something else. Then it ends up that we aren't actually saving money, I'm spending money I wouldn't ordinarily spend at chocolate shops, etc. So today I put a stop to that. We went to Spangles, the drive-thru even, and used the kids' two free cone coupons, plus a coupon my dad earned for a free ice cream cone when he was here to meet Baby X in February and they were slow preparing his meal for him. So not only did we get two free creams, but we got three. And I got to do it from the safety of my car, hiding behind sunglasses so no one will ever know what a cheapskate I was being. Hoorah!

Day 4 of our trip

I was just looking through my July pictures on the computer (like I actually order any prints and organize them into albums) and realized I never finished documenting our family vacation to the Little House on the Prairie sights. Mainly because day 4 was just driving home... for hours and hours and hours. But we did go to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota (and Cabela's). Then we drove a lot.


That's an itty bitty Jed and the kids under the 2009.




Some random statue of a one horned rabbit Princess Sparkley wanted a picture of.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies... supposedly
via my dad

Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
5 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
16 oz Ghiradelli chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate, my dad uses semi-sweet. Eww.)

Directions:
Beat eggs until frothy. Add one cup at a time sugar and brown sugar. Gradually add 2 cups of melted butter. Mix slowly. Add 2 tsp vanilla. Change mixer blades to kneading blades. Mix in a separate bowl: 5 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp soda, and 1 tsp salt. Add to wet mixture. Add chocolate chips. Bake 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees. Take off pan immediately.

Interesting tidbit: My dad and I both follow this recipe and our cookies never turn out looking the same.

Thoughts on a Monday

It hit me this weekend, that next year Buddy will be in Kindergarten. My baby!! Okay, so not my baby any more since I have a new one so Buddy could grow up and be a little boy. I don't think it hit me so hard that Princess Sparkley was of Kindergarten age last year. Her whole life it seems like I've been so anxious for her to get that much older so she could do new stuff (ie: as a baby desperately wanting her to crawl, then once she did that wanting her to walk, etc.). Buddy was my baby for almost four years. That, added to his delayed speech, made him seem like that much more of a baby to me still. But he's not. Gulp. And I'm going to have to get used to that idea.

I'm number two on the waiting list at my library for Stephenie Meyer's new book, Breaking Dawn, in the Twilight Series. I'm super frustrated because even though the book came out on Friday, and the library ordered 5 copies they only have one copy in yet. And that one copy is just sitting on the hold shelf waiting for someone to pick it up. Argh! I could have read it by now and they haven't even picked it up. It better be ready for me before I leave town this weekend and have to see my brother-in-law and his wife who I introduced the series to a couple months ago and who have probably already read it.

Waiting at the library for me is this book that a friend recommended and I'm going to give a shot at reading. Even if it is nonfiction... not my strong point. I need organization. Especially if I'm going to pull of Princess Sparkley's schedule this school year. She'll be half homeschooled, half regular schooled.

Our air conditioner was out all weekend (Friday and Saturday) and out on and off last week. Heat index above 100 degrees. I felt like I was melting. I love Kansas... I really do. But the humidity in the summer and the freezing temperatures in the winter just about do me in.

We're gearing up for a family reunion of sorts with Jed's family. Mainly we just want to hang around and chat and relax but it looks as though every second of the day and night is planned with activities so no one complains about just sitting around doing nothing. Sitting around and doing nothing is my favorite thing to do.

I've had a highly productive day (because in my imagination, the mess downstairs is all cleaned up). I rearranged our downstairs coat/craft closet to hold all of Princess Sparkley's school stuff. The closet is right next to the kitchen table where 95% of her homeschooling takes place and all of her school stuff is upstairs in her room. Not anymore. Plus, I freed up space on her bedroom bookshelf for all of the kid books that are overflowing from our other kid bookshelves, and the kids beds. The kids love books... where could they have gotten it from??

I have at least 5 sugar cookie recipes I need to try out, plus a chocolate chip one, but didn't want the oven on all weekend. And last night, when I finally decided to make some cookies, I didn't have an sour cream... which everyone of the recipes I wanted to try called for. So I made my old reliable chocolate chip cookie recipe and in 2/3rding the recipe, something went horribly array. They turned out tasty, but odd looking.

We checked out some Junie B. Jones books on cd from the library for Princess Sparkley and Buddy to listen to on our long trek to St. Louis this weekend, via southeast Missouri in order for Jed to get some counties and finish off Missouri. They've listened to Aloha-ha-ha-ha (or, according to Jed's memory, Hawaii -ha-ha-ha) twice a day starting Saturday. It's a 72 minute cd. It's a bit crazy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Shoplifter


image from Johnsons

I spent a lot of yesterday not at home, out and about doing stuff in Topeka. Topeka's a bit of a drive, and with gas prices what they are I try to plan a bunch of stuff for one trip. Yesterday's trip included:
- 6 month pictures of Baby X at JCPenney's
- 6 year old pictures of Princess Sparkley at JCPenney's
- car tires rotated at Sam's Club
- backpack and shoe shopping for Princess Sparkley at the Topeka mall
- returning a book to the Topeka Library

While waiting for our car to be finished, we enjoyed hot dogs and a pretzel at Sam's Club. Then walked to Walmart and Kohl's because our car was still not done. I did a bit of shopping at Walmart, getting some of the ingredients for my book club dessert, some school supplies for Princess Sparkley, etc.

We weren't in usual shopping mode since the car was across a giant parking lot getting worked on, so Baby X was in the stroller and we didn't grab a shopping cart. I just stacked what we were going to buy on the stroller tray until that threatened to fall on Baby X, crushing him, at which point I got out our reusable shopping bag and carried everything around in it. Except a thing of baby lotion, which, unbeknownst to me, fell into our diaper bag. I didn't know until I got home and it just about ruined my day. I called Walmart to see what I could do about it, feeling horrible. They told me just to come to customer service next time I was in the store and I could take care of it. I asked if I'd be able to do that from my Walmart since I'm not driving back to Topeka anytime soon. She told me not to worry about it, that it wasn't a big deal and that accidents happen all the time. I still feel bad. I'm thinking I might have to mail them the money. Or I guess I have to go to Topeka in a couple of weeks to pick up our portraits. I hope I remember. I don't want to be a shoplifter.

Frosting Shots


image: frosting shot from roboppy on Flickr.

I thought that cupcakes were the new thing. Apparently I was wrong. We've moved past cupcakes and on to frosting shots. I first read about it here and then here. As I kid I always wanted that piece of store cake with the giant frosting flower on it. But since I've become a *gulp* adult, I tend to scrape off all the extra store frosting. But I think if I was at one of these fancy cupcake shops with their gourmet flavored frostings, I might go for a frosting shot or two (or three). I've posted it before and I'll post it again, this is my favorite frosting and I could eat about a dozen shots of it in a sitting. Yikes.

From this recipe Tuxedo Brownie Cup frosting:

Ingredients:
2 squares (1 oz ea) white chocolate for baking
2 TBSP milk
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip
, thawed

Surprise Cookies



My list of dessert recipes to try out couldn't possibly get any longer... but it does. And I'm adding this recipe for Surprise Cookies that Martha Stewart just emailed me.
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