"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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

The Baking and Blogging Poll Winner was Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes (click for recipe) from Cassie at How To Eat A Cupcake. So tonight I baked them, and now I'll blog about them.



This is an original How To Eat A Cupcake recipe. I'm so envious that she created a recipe. I'm not that brave in my baking. I'll adjust salt content, but that's about all the tweaking I do to a recipe. I love the idea of this recipe, a raspberry lemonade cupcake. I think I love it because I once had a raspberry lemonade cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory that was TO DIE FOR. This recipe was easy. They taste good. But I didn't fall in love.

Jed and I both gave them an "Eh. They're okay."

Princess Sparkley gave them a "Can I have two? How about one and a half?"

Buddy ate half of his (but he doesn't have the sweet tooth that the rest of us have) and Princess Sparkley won big time because she got to finish the second half of his.

To be fair to the recipe, we're not actually big fans of cake. I know, I know. It's cake, who doesn't love it. But Jed's mom always seems to pride herself on remembering to get Jed a pie for his birthday since he's always preferred pies. And I'm more of a cookie/brownie/candy girl. I like cake when it's dense and not fluffy. I think the place where I got my wedding cake is the only cake that I really really like... and I love it.

Not to mention that the pictures on How To Eat A Cupcake look way better than mine. Especially the frosting. So maybe if I'd eaten hers instead of my poor imitations, I would have fallen in love.

I'm excited for How To Eat A Cupcake in October because she'll be featuring Autumn recipes. And while my husband has already told me that pumpkin is okay, but just in a pie, I like pumpkin recipes!

My mom's potato cinnamon rolls came in second in my poll ... and I'll be baking up a batch for you soon.

Baking Poll

Thank you to those of you who voted in my "What Should I Bake and Blog About Next Poll."

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes won with 6 votes and my mom's Potato Cinnamon Rolls came in 2nd with 4 votes. I'll do them both... eventually.

First, I have to make my signature dessert for a church activity on Thursday night and I'm having a hard time figuring out what my signature dessert is. Basically my signature is desserts. Not a specific one.

My husband couldn't help me. He's tried a wide variety of my desserts over and over and over again.

My brother would probably say Snickerdoodles, but I just made them for a church activity a couple weeks ago. His signature dessert, possibly the only dessert he's made in my recollection, are Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies.

My BFF Angela would probably say my mom's cinnamon rolls. But she lived with me last in college so she hasn't had the hundreds of desserts I've discovered and made since then.

My mom's signature dessert would probably be her Hot Fudge Squares and she'd probably say mine was either Tuxedo Brownie Squares (pretty pricey to make and best in raspberry season) or Cream Puff Squares.

So I don't know.

Cozy

The mornings are starting to be cold which makes it even harder for a night owl like me to leave my warm cozy bed and wake up for the day.

And the temperature this morning was still in the mid 40s... I'm not ready for Winter. Kansas winters are the coldest I've experienced, the only time my thermometer has ever read numbers in the single digits, or below zero. Brrr.

Intriguing

I'm intrigued by this.



This teen in Oregon and his mom put up Obama signs that kept getting stolen, so he's got a live video feed on the sign now and people all over the world are constantly watching it. Watching it and chatting. You can read all about it here (that's where Jed read about it and told me).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman


image from readingeagle.com
"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman -he looks tough and I don't - but I guess my own looks aren't so bad."

from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


The Outsiders is one of my favorite books, so when Jed told me Paul Newman had died I quoted these opening lines from the book to him. My experience with Paul Newman is this quote, salad dressing, popcorn and the movie Cool Hand Luke which Jed made me watch a few months ago. Then Jed explained the many other exposures I've had to Paul Newman and was just unaware of. But I think this book quote will stick with me the most. That, and Jed referring to baby Buddy as Baby Paul Newman all the time due to our little boy's blue blue eyes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Apple Ideas


image from foodsubs.com

It's apple season, and while I didn't go apple picking this year, I wish I did so I could make all these yummy recipes Martha just emailed to me.

Deep-Dish Apple Pie

Apple Cupcakes
Apple Strudel
Caramel Apple Sundae
Baked Cinnamon Apples
Classic Caramel Apples

More Tempting Apple Recipes

Here are some of my favorite apple recipes:
Mini Caramel Apples
Speedy Streulsel Apple Pie (and apple children's books)
Apple Turnover
Apple Bundles
Taffy Apple Pizza
Carver Salad

And I've always wanted to try this Dutch recipe I heard my favorite professor describe once here. You core an apple, coat it in pancake batter, and deep fry it. Mmmm.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Illegal Shopping

So today is a no shop day in our family (we only shop on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, which I explained a little bit here). It's a new thing we're trying out and we aren't over the top strict about it. But we try our best. Today I didn't try so hard. It was the early out day for Princess Sparkley's school, which meant I actually had time to go to Sam's Club (about 30-40 minutes away) and run some other errands around there. So we spent money on a coat for Princess Sparkley, shoes for Baby X, a ton of stuff at Sam's Club, and that was it. I let Sam's Club trips be excused from the no shop day rule because it happens when it can happen and sometimes it falls on a no shop day. Then I had to make cookies for one of Jed's classes. And I was 1/4 cup of flour short. So I ran up the street to the store. Then I got home, solved that problem and realized we're out of brown sugar (I was 1 1/2 cups sort). Argh. So I ran back up the street. I would have abandoned it all if I hadn't already started creaming the butter and sugar. And it was 10 o'clock at night so it wasn't like I could go knock on my neighbor's door and choose now to introduce myself. So today was a bad bad bad no shopping day. But I am making these (except not "Christmas Style"... I'm making them with white chocolate chips).

Pumpkin Patch


Faulkner Farm in Santa Paula, CA (10/2004)

My kids are driving me crazy with their need to go to the pumpkin patch. I love the pumpkin patch. I think it'd be cool to own one someday (as long as I wasn't in charge of growing them since I have a brown thumb). But seriously, it's still September. And it's still pretty warm most days in Kansas. Princess Sparkley keeps mentioning every pumpkin we see on every porch we drive past, and every kid at school who has talked about already having pumpkins. Ahhh! We will go to the pumpkin patch... IN OCTOBER!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Should We Have For Dinner Tonight?

What should we have for dinner tonight?

Wouldn't it be great if I could ask that question and you all would immediately respond (in time for me to actually make your suggestion for dinner tonight) with fabulous recipes that sounded easy and oh so appetizing? Wouldn't it?

As it so happens, I have a menu for you to chose from. You see, Jed decided a few weeks ago that we should only spend money on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 1) To hopefully save money by not spending it needlessly. 2) To show ourselves how much money we spend needlessly when we have to buy everything on a Saturday to last until Tuesday and we're dishing out huge sums of money. Or something like that. I just thought it seemed doable, and sort of a fun challenge. So I've tried to keep up with it.*

Anyways, so in order to shop on only certain days, I've had to be better about planning out meals so I'm not stuck needing sour cream as a key ingredient to a Wednesday recipe when there is no sour cream in my fridge.

Here are my menu choices for tonight:

Creamy Italian Chicken (except this should have been put in the crockpot hours and hours ago and my crockpot is in the dishwasher from cooking pork the other day).

White Chicken Chili (too warm of a day for this, and I need to hunt down where I found this recipe so I actually have the recipe before I can make it)

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
(wait, that's not a meal!)**

Sweet Crust Pizza Dough
(with toppings, of course)

Breakfast (but like I've said before, to Jed, breakfast for dinner is my salmon)

BLTs (except the bacon is frozen and I don't think I actually have tomatoes. Mental note: add tomatoes to grocery list).

Chicken Fettuccine

Spaghetti (again with the no rolls... you have to have some sort of a roll with spaghetti)



*Last night I even made, from scratch, rolls to have our BBQ pork sandwiches on because we'd had pork tacos the night before and had a TON of pork left over but I hadn't planned on needing rolls. And it was a Monday. So I made rolls. They didn't turn out great... I followed the recipe, they just never rose (rised? raised? rose doesn't seem right when talking about bread rising). But they were edible, and I didn't spend money. Yea me. (Pat on the back.)

**I finally made these and blogged about them here. The are delicious!!!

Observing

I'm an observer. I think I get it from my mom who likes to people watch. I may not strike up conversations with all the other parents picking up their kids from school, but I'm listening to them and hearing their stories.

There's this one mom who I saw start a conversation with another mom a couple weeks ago. I got the idea that their kids had gone to preschool together a year ago or something. I don't know exactly, I just got the impression that they are more acquaintance/friend than friend/friend. If that makes sense.

So every couple of days I end up standing near them as we're all waiting for our kids to be released and I hear tidbits of conversation here and there. Basically what I've learned is that the one woman is going through a bitter divorce and her husband has a new girlfriend. I feel for her, I do. But I also feel for this acquaintance/friend who is forced to listen to all this complaining each time they meet. The husband's girlfriend's shoes were in the car when he picked up the kids, rubbing it in her face. The girlfriend spending the night at his house when he has the kids. Etc. Etc. This woman just seems like the embodiment of all bitter divorcee stereotypes. It's like a brand new mom who can only talk about her baby. My baby this, my baby that. Obviously I hope never to get divorced, but I also hope that nothing so depressing and negative takes over my entire being. Being able to only think or talk about a newborn is one thing. Being totally focused on only your nasty divorce and your unhappiness is another. And I'm sure that if it were me I would definitely want to complain and swear and throw some things as well. And it isn't wrong to let something huge like divorce consume you, your marriage is important, it falling apart would be devastating. It just seems like focusing on so much negative can't do anything but add more negativeness.

I guess part of my thinking here is because Eat, Pray, Love deals a lot with Elizabeth Gilbert's recovery from divorce. She was the one who ended her marriage, but she's dealing with her husband's harshness, unforgiveness and negativity while also trying to move on with her life and deal with her own disappointment in herself, him, life, etc.

Just some random thoughts. Even I'm not sure where they came from.

Slow Reading



My husband always complains because we'll be laying next to each other in bed reading and he'll take note of what page I'm on, and then when I stop he'll notice how much I've read and compare it to how much he's read. He complains that he's a slow reader. This is not the case. He just reads slow books (ie: nonfiction, political or historical books). I tend to read fiction. And young adult novels. I rarely read nonfiction. This is the stack of library books I just picked up from the library. Four are nonfiction (Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, Writing Down the Bones, and Eat, Pray, Love) some of which I'll look through more than read. Two I've actually checked out before and had to return(The Glass Castle and The Sex Lives of Cannibals) because I wasn't getting to them quick enough (I put books on hold at the library and without fail, they are all ready for me to pick up at the exact same time). And one is a young adult novel (Stop in the Name of Pants) (hopefully the last in the series) that I can power through in a few hours. I'm a little bit more than halfway through Eat, Pray, Love which I've been reading for what seems like forever. It's a good book, just not a quick read. I've read a book or two in a day or two before, but this one has taken weeks. But I'll finish it and move on... eventually.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Troublemaker


We call him our troublemaker.


Seriously, I'm not new at being a mom. I've been doing this for over six years. This is my third time going through all of this. But sometimes, this one makes me feel like I'm brand new at it. I'm not sure if it's him or if it's the extra motherly worry I have for him because of his heart.

Baby X is by far my most active baby. He's all over the place, getting into trouble every time I look away for a second. Ahhhh! He won't even be 8 months old until Friday. He's still supposed to be my tiny baby.

Due to his heart condition, his regular pediatrician has told me that since I'm not new to this (or at least I'm not supposed to be) she trusts me to bring him in whenever something seems abnormal and is making me worry. So* last week I took him in because he is so busy crawling around playing he gets huffy, puffy and sweaty. I didn't remember my other kids ever being this way, so I had the doctor check him out to make sure his heart is working the way it is supposed to be working. He's fine. His doctor listened to it, they put this little monitor on his foot and toe to monitor the oxygen in his blood. His doctor just says he's very active and his body is doing what he's supposed to. He's not training for a race so when he gets tired, he won't keep pushing himself to go, he'll just stop and rest. She said if he was breathing hard at rest or asleep, or if his lips or anything turned blue, that's when we would worry. So*, I guess he's just giving his heart a good cardio workout.

So* I've turned into one of those paranoid moms that is taking her kid to the doctor everytime he sniffles. But this kid worries me. And the more active he gets, the more I worry.


*I read somewhere the other day that starting sentences with "so" is supposedly a Utah thing. I'm not from there, but I have lived there. And I have a friend from Utah who starts a lot of sentences/stories with "so." I think I just like going against the conventional way of writing (ie: English teachers always yelled at me for starting sentences with "and" and "but" and ending sentences with prepositions, so now I do it all the time).

Christmas Shopping



image from thecoloringspot.com

It's official, the craziness has begun. I've purchased my first Christmas presents of the year... and it's still September. I hate that stores start decorating and advertising for Christmas long before Halloween (because then my kids start their lists, and they have three months to grow), but I'm one of those people who starts shopping early. Partially to spread out the Christmas cost. Partially to get good deals. And partially because I absolutely love buying presents. I've bought two stocking stuffers and two of Buddy's presents.

Princess Sparkley and Buddy got it into their heads the other day that they should write their Christmas lists. (Probably from some store with holiday decorations out already... TARGET. Argh.)

Here are their lists.
Princess Sparkley:
Candy
Art Kit
Tape
Paper
a Barbie Book
Crayons
a coat
boots
a workbook
cards made at home


Buddy's list:
truck
snow boots
a train book
a sword(this was a late addition when he saw that Jed had thrown away his broken sword. He saw it in the trash and Jed told him he could ask for it for Christmas, and Buddy said in a really sad, whiny voice, "But it's not on my list.")

I thought these were pretty decent lists. Let's just hope they don't keep growing because everything else is going on the list for Grandmas and Grandpas.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

S'mores Mini Cakes


from Marta Stewart

Seriously, how cute are these.

Keeping Me Busy


More to come on this one later.
(Doesn't he just look so mischievous here?)

Autumn


image from freefoto.com

I saw some orange leaves on a tree the other day and that makes me nervous. As much as I like autumn and I like the cooler (but still bearable weather) it really only means one thing to me... winter is on its way. Winter I do not like. That's not entirely true. I just don't like the coldness that IS winter. So as much as I love fall, I also sort of dread it.

In other news... I am an AUTUMN. Do people still do that where some colorization specialist lady looks at your skin and eye and hair color and tells you you're a season and what colors you should then wear?? My aunt did this for me when I was 10 or so and told me I was an autumn and should wear browns and oranges and greens. What ten year old girl wants to hear that? I wanted to be a spring and wear pinks and lavenders. But now I'm glad that I'm an autumn. Browns and oranges and greens have become good colors to wear in the past ten years, and I like them. Not like ten year old me who swore that brown was the ugliest color ever and she would never wear it. How could I hate brown? It's the color of chocolate. And peanut butter.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chicken and Rice Casserole for a Crowd

Recipe for a meal?? you ask! Yes, I'm actually posting a recipe for a non-dessert item. Shocking, but true. This is actually what I'm making right now. It's a different spin on a chicken and rice casserole and my kids really like it (as long as I cut the green things big enough for them to pick out). This is doubled and makes two 9x13 casseroles (I half it.*) So it's called...

Chicken and Rice Casserole for a Crowd

Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut in bite size pieces
2/3 cup chopped celery
6 green onions, chopped
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 cups maynnaise
1 cup evaporated milk
4 cups cooked rice
3 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing mix
1 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1 cube butter

Directions:
Mix first 8 ingredients (all but stuffing, almonds and butter). Divide mixture and place in two 9x13 casserole dishes. Make topping by melting butter and adding stuffing mix and almonds. Sprinkle topping on both casseroles. Bake at 35o for 30 minutes.

*I made up this perfect table showing the halved recipe and the huge recipe and how much for each, but Blogger won't allow the HTML and I'm not HTML fluent enough (or at all) to fix it. So sorry.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Busy

Too busy to blog... more to come later. Instead my need for cookies... and I guess making dinner override the need to blog. Plus I have to figure out how to make this as part of Buddy's Halloween costume. When did I become so crafty? I guess we should wait to see the finished product before we comment on my craftiness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Ratings

I've always wished that books had ratings. Not good or bad, but like movies do (ie: G, PG, PG-13 or R). Even TV shows these days have ratings. But I've never really done anything about it. Isn't that how things go, you have a brilliant idea and don't realize the brilliance of it until someone else does it. It's the same with all the mommy gadget inventions like knee pads for crawlers that you look at and say "I should have thought of this!" So goes my brilliance. And this brilliant idea that I never fully thought about...

My mom sent me a link yesterday (as my mom tends to do) to a news article about a woman who has started a website where she rates books. Why didn't I think of this?!? I read enough. I'm already over 12,000 pages this year. (Don't ask how I do it, I don't know. Basically I stay up late and ignore my kids when I'm in the middle of a great book.)

Anyway, I wanted to share that link with you. And a few others that I came across. Here they are:

www.ratedreads.com

www.bookreviewsandotherstuff.blogspot.com

www.cleanreads.blogspot.com
A Peek At My Bookshelf (check out the button at the top of my sidebar to win books in this blog's giveaway)

I like some of their formats better than others. I would like to just look and see a books rating, and maybe why it received the rating it did. I don't want to read summaries, etc. Each of these sites/blogs also links to similar book rating sites/blogs. Enjoy! And happy reading.


*Can I just take a moment to comment on how out of control my bookmarked pages are?? I had to scroll down forever before I finally got to those reading sites. I need to get organized. In more ways than one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Report: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald


Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Princess Sparkley's homeschool/virtual school curriculum had us reading this chapter book. I can't believe that in all of our childhood reading, neither Jed or I had ever heard of this book. It has to be a classic. It was first written in 1947, so something our parents might have even read as kids. And it's hilarious. So much so that Jed and I have laughed aloud a couple times each chapter. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is an expert on curing children of bad manners/habits. Here are the chapter titles:

The Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure
The Answer-Backer Cure
The Selfishness Cure
The Radish Cure
The Never-Want-To- Go-To-Bedders Cure
The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bit-Taker Cure
The Fighter-Quarrelers Cure

Although I fear "The Selfishness Cure" has backfired in our house. I had to reread this chapter to Princess Sparkley today (we read the first two chapters for school a week or two ago, and then were supposed to read chapter three today... but we already read the whole book not wanting to wait). Buddy immediately started making labels with his name on them and taping them on everything that was his. As soon as we were done with the lesson, Princess Sparkley joined him. The cure is labeling everything the selfish little boy owns, including his food, his bike, etc. and putting padlocks on everything. Eventually he hates it and wants to share. My kids are just labeling everything. Using up more of my tape.*

To sum up, this would be a great book to read aloud to your kids. They might learn a lesson, hopefully the right one.


*Tape is actually on Princess Sparkley's Christmas list each year because I complain about how much she uses and how she always loses our tape.

Bargaining

I'm not a fan of confrontation, so bargaining with people at garage sales or in Tijuana is not my thing. Yesterday I sold Princess Sparkley's Princess bike that I'd had listed on Craigslist. I listed it for $35, ended up selling it for $28.25 (I didn't have the right change so the guy paid 25 cents more). I hate having to bargain. The bike is three years old but rarely rarely rarely ever used. It's spent most of its life indoors. She outgrew it before she learned to peddle it. But this guy was a foreigner, without a car, who had just moved to Kansas, and was telling me he hadn't received his first paycheck yet, etc. And then he was being all nit picky about the little foam decorative piece between the handlebars and how the edges were cracked/frayed. Argh. He was going to give me $25. I talked him up to $28. But I hate having to deal with all of it. The other two things I've sold on Craigslist (a jogging stroller and a baby swing) were easy, the person just showed up and paid me what I was asking for. Deal done. No stress or panic for me. Oh well, at least he didn't kill me, which is always a secret concern in the back of my head when I have to meet a stranger in situations like this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Also Yummy Dipped in Peanut Butter


image from Hersheys.com

This is also yummy dipped in peanut butter. I learned this from my friend Kate when we were roommates. I've shared this "recipe" with my family. Today when I went to dip my own Kit Kat in there, I found the remnants of another Kit Kat. I guess we all love it. It's peanut butter and chocolate, what's not to love?

*Interesting (to me) fact: Only in the United States is the Kit Kat produced by Hershey. Everywhere else it is produced by Nestle.

Grandma Lund


My dad, my Grandma Lund and me.
(approx. 1983 at my aunt's home in Simi Valley, CA)

My Grandma Lund (dad's mom) was born in 1915 and would have been 93 yesterday. She lived until I was in college though her husband died before I was born. She is the grandparent that I remember best. Here are some of my favorite memories:
  • She was always the one to come and watch us when my parents went on a trip and she always took us out to eat.
  • When driving near our home (in a more rural area), if she spotted an aluminum can on the side of the road she'd pull over and make us jump out to get it.
  • She'd drive us around in her big, bright blue car with plastic cup holders that attached to her roll down windows.
  • She ate at Carl's Jr. for almost every meal.
  • She knew the people at her Carl's Jr., introduced us to them when we visited, and left them tips.
  • She drove past the closest Carl's Jr. to her home to a different one that she liked better.
  • She collected souvenir spoons.
  • She always gave us the crispest dollar bills.
  • She'd bring my dad peanut M&Ms and me plain M&Ms (this was before my true love, Peanut Butter M&Ms were invented).
  • She'd bring us Fiddle Faddle and Zonkers.
  • She introduced me to Charlie's Angels, Murder, She Wrote, Hunter, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
  • Her best friend was a woman named Pat and they would giggle and giggle anytime they got together.
  • She giggled and giggled with her sisters as well.
  • She never wore pants until my Grandpa died.
  • She learned how to drive a car while my dad and the other neighborhood children sat on the curb and cheered each time she came around the block.
  • Her eyebrows were penciled on.
  • She had funny sayings (ie: You have more____ than Carter's has pills. It always had to be explained to me later that Carter's used to be a drugstore.)
  • She ate cantaloupe and cottage cheese for dinner all summer (when she wasn't having Carl's Jr.)
  • She had really bad arthritis in her hands.
  • She loved Pepsi.
  • As soon as the grandkids could drink from a cup, she was giving us little Dixie cups filled with Pepsi.
  • Her dad is the only of my great grandparents I ever met (he's in the family picture at my baby blessing).
  • She was always doing crossword puzzles.
  • She had Alzheimer's and towards the end asked the same questions over and over again. (ie: What ER stood for (the tv show), how my missionary in Wisconsin was (Jed, who was at the time, no longer "my missionary," how could people build their houses way up on hills, weren't they scared of them sliding down? Etc.)

Grandma Eyre

Yesterday, September 14th was both of my grandmas' birthdays. I'm going to write my memories of both of them today. I'll start with the grandma I have the fewest memories of.

My Grandma Eyre (my mom's mom) born in 1907, would have been 101. She died in 1985 from cancer, just 4 days short of her 78th birthday when I was 7.


Left to Right: my sister, Grandpa Eyre, me, Grandma Eyre, my brother
(approx. 1981 at their home in Las Vegas, NV)


My memories of my Grandma Eyre mostly revolve around old family Christmas videos mixed with pictures, mixed with a few memories here and there. Here they are:
  • She always wore a house dress (my brother kept one to remember her by).
  • She made us all warm, soft flannel blankets.
  • We visited them each summer and went swimming in their community pool.
  • The mobile home park they lived in when I was little had a green tree symbol as its car pass.
  • I can remember her voice (I would guess due to the videos).
  • It seems like she called me Nanny, or something.
  • I can remember my grandparents big silver car.
  • I remember meeting them halfway between Las Vegas and our home in California once so they didn't have to drive all the way and she was too excited to wait to give me my present... yellow blankey, my favorite childhood blanket ever.
  • It's her siblings, of my distant relatives, that I know best- her sisters, sort of my adoptive grandmas as I grew up.

Both of my mom's parents were diagnosed with cancer at about the same time and came to live with us in California before they died. My job was to sit in the reclining chair in my grandparent's bedroom watching cartoons and if my grandma tried to get out of bed I had to go get my mom. I suppose I was her guard. My Grandma and Grandpa Eyre died just a few months apart from each other and I was able to attend both their funerals. All I remember is thousands and thousands of grasshoppers in that cemetery in Minersville, Utah for one of their funerals.

Shout out to Little Bear


image from Noggin

First, do people still give "shout outs"? I haven't watched MTV's TRL in approximately 8 years, so I'm not sure. I guess I can assume that I'm no longer hip and that people no longer give shout outs.

Today while Princess Sparkley and I were working on her homeschool/virtual school Language Arts lesson we read The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson. As I'm reading it, Princess Sparkley says, "They use this in Little Bear." Really? Cool. So when we get to the end of the poem, and the lines:
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

I recognize the phrase "pillow hill" which is the title of the Little Bear episode to which Princess Sparkley was referring.

How cool is it that some Noggin television show for preschoolers is using real literary masterpieces, if not to directly quote, to base episodes on? Pretty cool, I think. Unfortunately, my kids had to point this out to me since, while I believe I've watched the "Pillow Hill" episode, I didn't immediately think of this poem. I should have. I did afterall major in English.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I love love love peanut butter



I just walked past a jar of peanut butter on my counter, unscrewed the lid, dipped my finger in, licked it, and restored the lid to the jar. Mmm... peanut buttery goodness.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wheels



I wish all stores had this sign in the window.

(If I posted this picture before, sorry. I came across it in my photo albums and didn't think I'd posted it yet, even though I took it specifically to post on my blog.)

Winter Jacket


image from Landsend


This Monday is [our family name] Day. It marks the three year anniversary of our arrival in Kansas. When we arrived it was hot and humid and the cicadas were all we could hear. This September is a bit different. This September has me shopping for Winter coats for the kids already.

Here's my problem. I grew up in southern California. The area I grew up in was once voted 7th best climate in the nation by some magazine or newspaper. I think I owned a Winter coat once, in the 5th grade. Otherwise I made do with sweatshirts and windbreakers, etc. So when we moved to Kansas three years ago, and it started getting cold, I had to buy Winter coats for my kids. And let me tell you, my quick, "Ahh... we need warm coats!" shopping trip resulted in awesome coats that lasted three winters. Three!! When we moved here, Buddy was 18 months old, so I bought him a 2T jacket from Old Navy. He wore it in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Last year it was a bit short in the sleeves, but he keeps assuring me that it'll work this winter too. He's now well into 5T... I don't think so.

Princess Sparkley's coat was harder to find, but I finally found one I liked for her at Sears. She was three when we moved here and wore that size 4 coat for the last three winters as well. That's what I want... an investment in clothing that lasts years and years and years. So while I'm shopping for coats right now (mostly online since the selection in stores this early has been pretty slim) I'm trying to figure out how big I can go, and how much it is worth to me. But I can't find anything. The closest I've come is the coat pictured at the top of this post from Landsend. I keep checking the website to see if there are any free shipping deals if I spend more than $100 (each coat is $59). And there haven't been any deals... until I checked my email last night and decided to clean out my junk email account and I had three emails about free shipping at Landsend.com. All expired because I'd ignored them all week. Argh. So I'm sitting around waiting for more deals, hoping that this cold weather is a fluke and we aren't in for an amazkingly cold winter.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thomas the Tank on Jump the Shark



If you are unaware of the website Jump the Shark, you are missing out. There are hours and hours of time you could be wasting on the internet that you aren't even aware of... yet.

From the website's FAQ page, here is the definition of "jump the shark:"

Q. What is jumping the shark?
A. It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark." From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.

The term "jump the shark" was coined by site founder Jon Hein's college roommate of 4 years, Sean J. Connolly, in Ann Arbor, Michigan back in 1985. This web site, book, film, and all other material surrounding shark jumping, are hereby dedicated to "the Colonel."

The aforementioned expression refers to the telltale sign of the demise of Happy Days, our favorite example, when Fonzie actually "jumped the shark." The rest is history.

Jumping the shark applies not only to TV, but also music, film, even everyday life. "Did you see her boyfriend? She definitely jumped the shark." You get the idea.

We invite you to comment when any show jumped the shark.


I checked out Charlie's Angels: Season One from the library and am slowly making my way through one of my favorite childhood shows. This prompted my husband to go the JumptheShark.com to check on it, which led us to checking on the show Three's Company, which is where we spotted the page for Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Can you believe the Thomas show has its own Jump The Shark page? Here is our favorite comment:


Ringo Starr was wonderful, George Carlin was brilliant. Alec Baldwin was so-so. Michael Brandon, however, is awful. His narraration is choppy, monotonous and condescending. And, I hate to say it, but the stories and situations are growing more stupid. Like, who the hell is dumb enough to put loose cocoa poweder in an open topped boxcar?!

Outfit


image from llbean.com

My husband would love this outfit (Jed, do you want to confirm this?). He's all about collared shirts and cardigans. Unfortunately I never feel like spilling out the $251.45 (for this specific outfit) that it would cost to buy an outfit. So I just pull together what I have. But I'm not really all that great at assembling outfits. I guess what I'm saying is that if I ever had a million dollars, I'd buy outfits like this one. This is why I want to go on What Not To Wear.

Aluminum Tent


image: I'll assume it was taken by my dad a couple weeks ago

This is the family cabin of my childhood. It's in the mountains above Cedar City, UT, overlooking Zion National Park. When my parents built it in 1970 or so, they were living in Las Vegas, a short, doable distance. The move to southern California turned the trip into a much longer trek. But we still made it there most summers. It wasn't high end cabin living. There is no electricity, just a string of gas lanterns and gas powered appliances (minus a fridge that had a gas leak and about killed us one summer when I was 13 or 14). There is no running water, until recently when a tank was placed uphill from the cabin, enough so to create "running water" inside. When we are there now, we live out of a cooler due to the fridge situation. There is usually a wasp nest out front at the point of the "A." The back balcony has sort of fallen away. Princess Sparkley has only been there once, when she was about 13 months old and there was a moth infestation. She somehow remembers this. We spent about three days constantly killing enormous moths.

It is not luxurious. I've always lovingly referred to is as an aluminum tent because it's just a step above camping. But when my parents sent this picture I felt a bit sad that this is the end of the green A frame cabin era for my family. Last summer my parents traded/bought/switched/sold around land my dad owned up there and they've begun building a bigger and better cabin. One with running water and electricity. One that the entire family can fit in. I'm excited to visit and stay there next summer when it's all complete, but I'll make sure to drive a little further up the mountain so my kids can see the aluminum tent of my childhood.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Take Note

I'd just like to take a moment to take note of this near miraculous event. It is 8:36 PM and I believe all of my kids are asleep. Hoorah for Daddy waking them at 7 each morning. And Hoorah for the threat of a Midwest summer thunderstorm's loudness. Hopefully blogging about this doesn't jinx me and they aren't just being freakishly quiet. Although freakishly quiet wouldn't be all bad because that usually means sleep is near.

Busy


Baby X. 7 months and a little bit.

I can't even count the number of times I've thought, "sure, my kid with the heart problem is the most active of them all... great." Baby X rolled over at three months. He scooted at 6 months, has mastered crawling at 7 months. And before I can even adjust my life to him just crawling wherever he pleases in the house, he goes and decides to pull himself up to standing. Yikes. So the haven of the coffee table for all loose papers (his favorite) and other tiny things Baby X can't have is no longer a haven. He's so happy and proud of himself for getting up there. And today when I washed his sheets I thought, "he hasn't tried standing up in the crib yet, but while I have the mattress out I might as well lower it." And just now when I went to give him his binky back, he was kneeling in his crib holding onto the bars, looking very proud of himself. He is a busy kid. Constantly on the move. Constantly chasing after his older brother and sister. I put the gate at the top of the stairs and he crawls over to it, presses his face up to it and tries to see Princess Sparkley and Buddy who he can hear playing down there... without him. How dare they! He also loves hanging out at the bottom step, but he gets stuck there, cries, we help him down, and then he crawls right back. Before the gate was there, he'd completely ignored the steps, and then one day all of a sudden he was three steps up. So now he just hangs out by the gate longing for that freedom.

A Visit From The Tooth Fairy

Our tooth saga is half over and only just begun. One of the offending teeth fell out today... at some point. We don't know when or where. I'm guessing she swallowed it. But the last time she remembers wiggling is was a church, hours and hours before she realized it was missing.


Princess Sparkley and her first missing tooth.
(Bottom, middle, right side)


Since there was no tooth to leave under her pillow, she wrote a note to explain.



The "tooth fairy" sneaking into her room.



This is the same wig Jed is wearing in one of the first
pictures I have of us together
... sort of together.



The tooth fairy.
He had to scavenge the house for money to leave under PS's pillow.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Book Report: Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman


This book was recommended to me buy a reader of my blog after I wrote a post about how many books we own. It's nonfiction, which is not my genre of choice. It's a collection of essays, which I like the idea of, but essays tend to be nonfiction. But it's about books (which I love), and it's short. I really liked it from the start, but I always find nonfiction harder to get into, so it sat around neglected for a bit.

Anne Fadiman is very smart, very well read and very funny. You can read most of the first essay here about how after being married for five years, she and her husband finally joined their libraries together. I read a lot of this essay aloud to my husband. I read a lot of different parts of this book aloud to my husband.

This book made me feel like I am no where near as well read as I thought I was. I realize that there are a lot of classic books out there that I haven't read, but I thought I'd at least heard of most of the more famous books and their authors. She also used a lot of huge words and while vocabulary has never been my strong point, I've never come across so many words that I was clueless about. So while this book was funny and made me laugh, it also made me feel a bit... not smart.

One of Fadiman's essays is about the treatment of a book, how some people treasure the book and won't crack the spine, scribble in a margin, or dog ear a page, while others treasure only the words and not the physical book itself. One essay is about the odd shelf, that bookshelf everyone has in their house that is sort of a crazy mix of books that don't quite belong together, but they don't belong anywhere else either.

I'll leave you with one of the many parts that made me laugh, in the essay title "Words on a Flyleaf" she tells the following:

How melancholy, my contrast, are the legions of inscribed copies one finds in any used-book rack, each a memorial to a betrayed friendship. Do the traitors believe that their faithlessness will remain secret? If so, they are sadly deluded. Hundreds of people will witness it, including, on occasion, the inscriber. Shaw once came across one of his books in a secondhand shop, inscribed To _____ with esteem, George Bernard Shaw. He bought the book and returned it to _____, adding the line, With renewed esteem, George Bernard Shaw.

Melting Mascara


image from maybelline.com

Just FYI, if you happen to be baking at very high temperatures, or perhaps over an open fire, mascara (or at least the $4.99 Maybelline variety that I buy) melts at approximately 450 degrees. I know this because while making this Pioneer Woman recipe, I opened the oven and it felt like each of my eye lashes was getting squeezed together by a boa constrictor with a few of its neighboring eye lashes. It wasn't painful. When I took the mascara off the eye lashes were fine. It just felt... odd.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Baby Girl Costume


I'm not even a Star Wars fan, but this costume is adorable!

Spying On You Spying On Me



I love websites like StatCounter and Google Analytics that allow me to spy on you spying on me. Maybe it's the fact that when I was little I wanted to be a detective when I grew up, I've always been a bit obsessed with Nancy Drew, I spent hours watching Murder, She Wrote, with my grandma and I love shows like CSI and Alias. So I like spying on you.

From StatCounter I learn that mostly what you want from me are the following:
Cake Box Cookie Recipe
Bath Pod information
Book Reports or Cliff's Notes on various young adult novels
(shame on you teenagers, do your own homework!!)

When you look at the StatCounter I've placed on Jed's blog so I can spy there as well, these are his big draws:
World's Youngest Grandma (33.11%)
Pirate Nicknames (31.95%)
the occassional person searching for reviews of commuter bikes
grammar help

It's interesting to see what other people are looking for on the internet... and I guess it's not really YOU, you guys, my loyal readers, use Google Reader and jump to me from your own blogs, etc. It's the random people trying to find a bath pod to bath their baby in that I'm spying on the most. Have fun spying.

Songs

I few years ago I read an okay novel called The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker about this girl who basically acts as a therapist, but she does it based on the songs and lyrics that are currently in your life. She called it song reading. Interesting concept.

As unmusical a person as I am, I do feel like there is always some sort of song, or maybe a soundtrack that is the background of my life during certain years or periods of time.

This is what I've been thinking of recently... how interesting it is to me that I'll be singing a song in my head or aloud (if no one is around to listen), so maybe I'm at the grocery store, or maybe I'm at home and then I get into my car and the cd picks back up where it left off and my mental song, and the song on the cd are at the EXACT SAME SPOT. It's crazy. Without me even realizing I'm singing the same song I was listening to in the car earlier in the day, I'm singing it and am at the exact spot where I stopped listening to it to exit the car. It's crazy. And it happens to me ALL the time. Does this happen to anyone else?

Piper Palin

Piper Palin may have won my vote for at least her mom. This is so cute if you didn't happen to catch the Republican National Convention last night.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Slimy Teeth

For those of us who were orthodontically challenged in our younger years, we know about finally getting our braces off and how weird and smooth and slimy our nonmetallic teeth felt.

In this past week the following has happened that seems somewhat similar to that slimy dental experience:

1. I removed a large hunk that was part of my key chain and now it fits in my hand strangely because my hand was used to the way it used to be shaped and how much it used to weigh and how it folded up into a hand-sized grip.

2. A part of my ugly fake tooth chipped away last night as I ate a Blue Bunny frozen ice cream cone. (I know, not an apple or a steak or a carrot, but frozen ice cream). I already hated this tooth, so it's not too big of a deal, but it feels weird in my mouth. I haven't decided yet if that's because it needs some serious dental attention, or if my mouth is just having to adjust to a different way than the way that tooth has felt for the past 13 years. I actually thing that it's shape is much better than before. But to my mouth, it feels weird.

3. I go back and forth on what brand of shampoo and conditioner I use and what type of deodorant I use. I don't know why, I just do. So the other day I finished off my old shampoo and conditioner and switched to a 2-in-1 variety. After I washed my hair and was done in the shower, I just stood there for a minute trying to figure out why it felt like I wasn't done, even though I was. Then I realized it was because my shampoo and rinse, then condition and rinse, had been reduced to shampoo and condition then rinse. Done. I just wasn't used to that routine yet.

What other strange feelings are there?

Politics


image from here

I grew up in a ... politically aware household, I guess. We used to joke a lot that my brother was basically the real-life version of Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. And not just our family thought that, other people told us this as well. I always remember the episode when Alex P. Keaton is a teenager flashing pictures of past presidents at his baby brother Andy sitting in a high chair. It seemed like the kind of thing my brother would do. He and Jed waited in line over night to pay their respects at Richard Nixon's viewing when Jed and I were in high school and my brother was older. They did the same thing a few years ago with my brother's oldest son when Ronald Reagan died (his library is near my parent's house in California).

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm politically aware. I grew up with it. And then I married it. But it isn't something that I would claim on my own as an interest. I'm politically aware because a person should be. But I'm not going to spend a lot of time blogging about it, or talking about it (except for with Jed because I'm a nice wife and it's a subject that interests him). But I am going to blog about it this once with just a few thoughts.

1. I have no idea for whom to vote.

2. I'm happy that Hillary Clinton is not the Democratic nominee because Jed and I made a deal several years ago that we'd move to another English speaking country if she was president. I think we finally decided on Ireland.

3. I don't know how I feel about Sarah Palin as the Republican's Vice Presidential candidate, but I do know that I'm not holding her teenage daughter's pregnancy against her.

4. Why is everyone so obsessed with the fact that Bristol Palin's baby daddy listed on his MySpace page that he doesn't want kids? He's 18... I'm pretty sure that's normal for an 18 year old boy. Especially because most teenage boys don't plan on getting their teenage girlfriend pregnant. Even if (which I'm too lazy to log into my neglected MySpace account to check, but I think there's a "someday" option for if you want kids) there is a "someday" or "in the future" option, my experience with teenage boys is that they aren't really focused on someday having a family.

5. While I'm very pro-life and pro-adoption, and I would love for Briston Palin to be able to place her baby for adoption, I can see the difficulty in that happening when her mom is running for VP of the United States and every news source out there is trying to dig up some dirt. How can she have a baby, place it with a family and expect it all to stay anonymous and out of the news?

Those are my thoughts. It may be the most political I ever get on my blog. Happy voting in November.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Drum Roll, please

I won a blog award. Actually, two. I'm so excited! And honored! And every junior high and high school English teacher I ever had would be so mad that I just started two sentences with the word "and." Totally unacceptable. But I'm excited!!

Rae, fun lady and owner of the sweet bunny that I wish I could call my own, over at My Life on the East Coast chose me to receive the following awards:






So, here's the thing. They were two separate awards, and then they were awarded together, so I'm splitting them up again to share the love.



Lisa at Away From It All who I realize won this award last week, but I really do love her blog. Her blog is fun and witty and full of stories, everything I want my blog to aspire to be.

Jamie at How Charming who I sort of grew up with, but because of that whole age thing where when you are 12 you totally aren't hanging out with a 10 year old, I barely knew her. And now her blog cracks me up and I wish we were neighbors.

Natalie at 100% Cottam has a blog full of a modge podge of stuff interwoven with her bubbly personality that makes me smile and wish we were neighbors too.




Marta at m.writes is the wife of one of my favorite friends from college and even though I've never actually met her in person, she seems like his perfect match. She has an eye for design and layout and a talent with words, and she's a brand new mommy to a handsome little guy.

The Crafty Crow is filled to the brim with so many fun crafts that my kids would love, I just need to get around to doing some of them instead of marking them all as favorites and waiting for another day.

How To Eat A Cupcake is really satisfying my recent obsession with cupcakes. I think I have all the ingredients purchased and waiting to be baked into two of her yummy creations.

Cristin of Tales of an Ordinary Housewife has some of the craziest stories to tell about being an ordinary housewife and they are all true. Plus she's a friend whose husband I had a crush on when I was three.


To my lucky winners, (who were listed in no particular order) here are the rules for passing the awards along:

"Official" Rules (in case anyone would like to read them)
1. The winner(s) can put the logo on her blog.
2. Link to the person you received the award from.
3. Nominate other blogs (up to seven) to pass along the award to.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of people you've nominated.

pre Halloween


*
My husband is giving me a hard time because I'm already trying to plan out my kids' Halloween costumes. It's not like Halloween is my favorite holiday, I just really like dressing the kids up in cute, fun costumes. And I have a new kid to dress up this year, and no other costumes that will fit him. Hooray! So what should Baby X be for Halloween? I fell in love with some of these:







image from babystyle.com


*past Halloweens:
2002: Princess Sparkley was a sweet pea
2003: PS was a peacock/peahen
2004: PS was Cinderella, Buddy was a fish (if it fits, this may be Baby X's costume)
2005: PS was a ladybug, Buddy was a dinosaur
2006: PS was a butterfly, Buddy was a Boston Red Sox player
2007: PS was a candy corn, Buddy was a UPS man
2008: PS is going to wear my nieces bumble bee costume, Buddy wants to be a DHL man
(I'm trying to talk him into being a stoplight)

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm A Real Live Actual Adult

It's official. I'm old. Nothing like a new calling at church to make a person feel that way. I just got called to the calling my mom had when I was six years old (how old Princess Sparkley is now), the calling I remember her having for most of my childhood. A calling she had when she was at least 16 years older than I am now, but it still makes me feel like a real live actual adult. Which is a bit frightening since being married and having three kids only sort of made me feel like I was a real live actual adult. Like I've said before, in my mind I still think I'm 23 or so. And I guess a 23 year old could be Primary president (the lady in charge of all the kids 11 and under at church). And I'm replacing a Primary president that is just about my own age. So it shouldn't seem so crazy... but it does.
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