"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Ladies


Smart about the First Ladies: Smart about History by Sally Warner
find it here

Several weeks ago when we'd decided we were moving to northern Virginia (Washington DC metro) I went to the US history section of our local library and picked up some books on Virginia, books that talked about each of the states, and books about Washington DC. One of the books I found was about the First Ladies, I thought Princess Sparkley would appreciate that so we checked it out. PS loves it! She's been spouting random facts about the first ladies to us for weeks. The other day she was trying to think of people we know who have the same initials as first ladies (ie: Martha Washington and Mykle Whiting (her old Primary teacher). I think I'll buy it for her for her birthday in August. It's only $5.99 at Amazon.com!!! And it's apparently part of a series... hold me back so I don't buy them all.

Sneak Peak: Princess Sparkley's Birthday Party


Nancy Drew... I mean, Princess Sparkley

There are about a billion things I should be doing besides this, but it's fun. PS turns 7 in August, just a week and a half after we'll have moved from Kansas. She really wants to have a party here in Kansas with her friends from church and school before we move. I agreed to this several months ago. Now that we are getting closer and there are only a few Saturdays that we have free over the next three months, I'm starting to reconsider. BUT, she's excited, and she wants a Nancy Drew party, so I'm excited too. I love Nancy Drew.

We've almost finished designing the invitations. I wish I had more computer graphics training and a program better than Paint to tweak the invitations to my liking. I'd also like to cartoonize PS, but we'll see. I'm going to play around with our kid art programs on the computer tonight and see what they are capable of. We've ordered most of the stuff for the "sleuthing kits" and have a basic idea of how the party will go. It should be fun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Cabin



I wrote about my family's childhood aluminum tent... I mean, cabin, awhile ago. While searching for a picture of something else the other day, I came across this picture of the cabin in my "random pictures" file on the computer.

Our Family and Baseball


Our most recent family picture.
April 25, 2009
Kauffman Stadium
Kansas City, MO


For Buddy's birthday we took our family and two of his little friends to Fritz's Railway Restaurant in Kansas City (we opted for the one in Kansas City, KS because it tends to be less crowded than the one in downtown KC, MO). Not to mention that the two little boys we took are the only boys in their families and we didn't want anything to happen to them so we weren't taking them into Missouri. :) It was enough to take them 45 minutes away.

Anyway, the morning of the party Jed started complaining that having to take these other kids was cramping his style... if it was just our family we'd go to Nebraska Furniture Mart, Sam's Club and a baseball game that night. I was pretty sure that these two little boys' parents didn't want us keep their boys from 11 AM until a baseball game ended and we were back home at 10PM.

Jed became determined that we should go to the game so just before we were supposed to pick up the boys for the party, he drove up to our local grocery store and bought tickets for the Royals game that night. So we went to lunch in KC, KS, drove home, hung out for a few hours, and drove to KC, MO for a baseball game.

Have I mentioned that in our family, baseball is a favorite thing? I got it from my dad. I don't know where Jed got it from, but we've instilled it in our kids. Especially Buddy. When I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Princess Sparkley, Jed convinced me to drive to San Diego and back with him for a Pirates (his team of choice) game (all in one day, about 3 hours each way).

We have pictures of us at all the ballparks we've been to. Unfortunately they are cataloged into one file on our old computer and I'm too lazy to try to hunt them all down when they are cataloged by year and month like they are on this computer. Not to mention the fact that pregO Nance at the San Diego vs. Pittsburgh game was pre- digital camera. Jed does have them all cataloged on his Facebook page, so if you happen to be his Facebook friend, you can check them out there.

Sweets


Baby X on Easter begging for cookies.

Now that Baby X is eating basically what we eat, I'm beginning to wonder if his heart condition is something that means all of our diets should be more healthy. This has become a problem since over Easter he was introduced to cookies. Now he's developed the family's sweet tooth. He is currently crying at my leg because he spotted a box of brownie mix on the counter. His sister handed it to him and he has brought it over to me, begging me to open it. How does he even know that brownie mix means YUMMY. I mean, there's a picture, but I'm pretty sure we've never let him eat a brownie. He's apparently just discovered what yummy stuff looks like and he wants it.

8th Anniversary and 5th Birthday rolled into one

*



**
Eight years ago today, Jed and I were married. Happy Anniversary! (Insert mushy gushy stuff here and kissy noises here.)




And five years ago today, Buddy was born. Happy Birthday! We were lucky enough to convince Buddy to let us take him to his favorite restaurant on Saturday since having a train deliver your food is fun and all, but not quite the romantic location you might imagine for anniversary celebrations.


***


*FIXED-- I've now (obviously) added pictures to this post.
My internet has been horrifically slow the past few days, hence the lack of blog posts and pictures... it's taking forever to upload one picture, and it's not even going to work. But, rest assured there are more pictures, including a new family picture from our trip to a KC Royals baseball game over the weekend, AND, I discovered that I do have a picture of my family's old A-frame cabin on my computer, so I'll post that soon. Oh, and of course pictures of Buddy's birthday celebrations (and train of cupcakes). Until then... sorry.


**
Sorry for the extreme lack of more than three wedding pictures. I have more, they just aren't on my computer. So I just cycle through the three that are on my computer over and over again.

***This is Buddy in my mind, forever a two year old.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Technology

I think I've mentioned before that we aren't tech savvy people, Jed and I. Well... I think what I've said is that electronics hate us. We do okay for the most part. We don't own an iPod. Or a camera phone. A flat panel TV or a Wii (yet).

We're moving in 100 days (give or take). I've already started selling a lot of our stuff on ebay and Craigslist to the point that when I threaten to sell my kids stuff if they don't clean it up, they believe me and get a look of fear in their eyes. Now I'm digging through boxes and closets asking myself these questions: How can we downsize this? What can we sell? What can we give away? What can we throw away?

Here's where I need your help... is there an inexpensive way to convert cassette tapes to cd?? We just gave all of our old VHS tapes to Good Will and made note of the ones we'd like to own on dvd someday. But these aren't music tapes I want to keep, they are kid books on tape, or kid music from my childhood.

Also, while I have your attention... is there some way to play music from a USB mp3 player (we have one of those, just not an iPod) in a car stereo. I found a way online to do it with a cassette tape player, but our car only has a cd player.

Thanks for your help. I realize this is a shout out for help that may not arrive since, no offense, I don't think most of my readers are very tech savvy either. But maybe you'll surprise me. I'll cross my fingers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cotton Candy





We went to Princess Sparkley's school carnival on Saturday. Basically the won a lot of junk prizes that have already broken, ate a lot of junk food and had an absolutely fabulous time.

The big talk leading up to the carnival was how much they wanted to eat cotton candy. They've never had it. I think they only places we've gone with the kids where they've sold cotton candy is at baseball games, and I'm not about to let them get covered in gooey sugar knowing I have to sit next to them and hold them on my lap for about three hours.

When we finally got the cotton candy I gave them a brief lesson on how to eat it (because I still didn't really want a kid covered in gooey sugar) and let them at it. They both ate about 3 pieces and handed me their cotton candy informing me that they actually didn't like it very much. What!?! It's cotton candy. Even if the flavor is weird you eat it BECAUSE IT'S COTTON CANDY.

Jed and I got stuck eating a bunch of cotton candy because the machine shut down right after we bought ours and we couldn't exactly dump it in the trash right there by all the people who were just turned away from purchasing their own cotton candy.

The lesson I've learned for all of you:
Don't buy each of your kids their own cotton candy. Avoid buying it at all if you can.

Friday, April 17, 2009

6 1/2

Princess Sparkley is 6 1/2. She'll be 7 in August. Is there something about this age, or maybe girls that makes them so aware of fairness? And so ornery. She's mad at me today because it seems like Buddy's gotten more new clothes lately than she has. Seriously... she's mad about clothes. When she conveniently forgets everything we do buy for her. Argh.

Part of it is probably because we went to JCPenney's today and had Buddy's 5 year old picture taken. This is always a sore subject with her (never him when it's her turn) because she's not getting her picture taken. EVEN though she knows that in 4 months it'll be her birthday and she'll be getting her picture taken.

Nothing is ever fair. She's currently downstairs being alone because since we got home from the mall about an hour ago she's done the following:

  • stomped into her room mad about something, waking up the desperate for a nap Baby X

  • slammed her door while Baby X is still trying to fall asleep

  • got into a fight with Buddy over the mini blinds in their room almost breaking them

  • came into my room and repeatedly demanded stuff:
- can we play outside
(No, I've told you three times they just sprayed poison out there for weeds.)
- I need to use the computer.
(I'm using it right now.)
- I'm bored, there's nothing to do. --repeated over and over again on 3 different visits.
(We haven't been home all day...I think you can find something to do.)
-The only thing I can do is play with the camera.
(I already told you its batteries are charging right now.)




She just handed me this note:



In case you don't read kidspeak:
Ticket. You pay us $2.
You are being mean. That's illegal.

And Jed thinks the kids only hate him. I am not looking forward to her teenage years.



*While I'm typing this up, I've decided to be nice and let them get their own snack... even strawberry milk. Which resulted in Buddy starting the pour the strawberry syrup into PS's cup, her freaking out that he's doing her cup and knocking the strawberry bottle from his hand, resulting in strawberry syrup all over the table and my newly upholstered chair and the carpet. Buddy is in tears trying to scrub it up. Princess Sparkley is scubbing as well but listing off an assortment of excuses as to why it's Buddy's fault. He's crying and stomping his foot (which she's apparently taught him, being the foot stomping expert that she is). I need a nap.

Sleeping


Buddy in December 2008

I'm a night owl. I claim I get it from my mom. Jed is also a night owl, except a lot of the time he's a night owl trying desperately to be a morning bird. I should have such aspirations. I'm up fairly late most nights. But the nights when I'm up exceptionally late, or when I have intentions of going to bed early (10ish) are the nights when my kids follow this routine:

10:30 PM: Princess Sparkley asks, "How do you fall asleep?" We remind her that she's fallen to sleep over 3,000 times in her life time... most recently last night.

10:35 PM: PS gets mad that we've shut our bedroom door because then everyone is asleep and she's the only one awake and that's scary. We tell her to go to sleep then.

10:40 PM: PS is scared because we've turned off the hallway light.

Then I can do all the stuff I can't do during the day. The stuff I can't do while Baby X is awake, or the other kids. Exciting things like watching TV or folding laundry or doing the dishes. Fun. This should all start at 8 PM when we put our kids in bed but they annoy us for the next 2-3 hours so we get nothing done and are grumpy.

Then, when I finally do get in bed the routine goes something like this:

11:40 PM: Laying in bed.

12:30 AM: Baby X wakes up. 95% of the time, the only way to get him back to sleep in the middle of the night is a bottle.

1:00 AM: I'm back in bed trying to fall asleep.

1:50 AM: PS comes into my room because she's scared of something. Or she needs a drink but is scared to walk the four feet to the bathroom alone.

2:00 AM: I walk PS back to her bed and tuck her in. Buddy gives me a heart attack when he says from the top bunk, "I can't fall to sleep." This has happened three times this week now. Usually he's out cold for the night. I don't know what's waking him up. I open their door and go back to bed.

Some time between 3 and 6 Jed's alarms start going off. This depends on how early he went to sleep, how much homework or studying he needs to do before school in the morning, etc. At 6 my first alarm goes off, this is to make sure Jed is waking up. It goes off again at 7 because he has to make a 7:30 bus. If I'm lucky, the kids stay asleep longer. Buddy is usually up between 8 and 8:30. We're supposed to wake them up between 7 and 7:30 so they go to bed at night without a problem. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. Luckily we're entering the warm weather part of the year so we take a LONG walk each night to wear them out.

I'm usually fairly good at falling back to sleep. As someone who lays in bed for hours before he can fall asleep, Jed hates this about me. But lately, when the kids are waking me up so frequently, I've barely fallen back to sleep before they are waking me up again. It's driving me nuts.

We follow regular nightly routines of book reading, prayers, teeth brushing, etc. Buddy, can fall asleep quickly 75% of the time. A lot of the time he'll complain that he can't fall to sleep and I'll tell him to try and I'll come back in ten minutes. In ten minutes he's out cold. PS is a different story. The girl can't go to sleep. She can't shut her brain down. At least now that she can read, she has something to do... but at the same time now she has something to do. And it's not like the fits I have to deal with when we go to the dentist... THIS IS EVERY NIGHT!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Astronauts

Princess Sparkley brought home a paper from school the other day about a thing NASA was doing at the University of Kansas where people could come and touch one of only 7 moon rocks on Earth. So, we met Jed up on campus Tuesday afternoon and touched a moon rock. The kids loved it. I think we were all a little disappointed in the moon rock... it was slightly larger than a quarter but not shaped like a circle and basically looked and felt like a button made from plastic. BUT, we can say we touched a piece of the moon (except Baby X because we felt weird trying to make him stick his hand under the little plastic bridge thing to touch it). These pictures were the coolest part (and the only part we had to wait in line for... a LONG line). Buddy refused. PS and I did it. Enjoy us in space...








I was a little paranoid the whole time we were in line because really, how much does the average person know about space, or the International Space Station and how it was built. These were the kinds of questions I was having to answer from my kids as all these other (possibly more space savvy) people listened in. My kids have good, unanwerable by the average person, questions. Or just questions about the trailer attached to a sort of jolly jump building that we were standing in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cabin Life


A more recent picture of my childhood cabin.

My family has always had a cabin in the mountains of southern Utah. My parents built it in the late 1960s when they were living in Las Vegas and the mountains in southern Utah were great for a quick weekend. When they moved to southern California, those quick weekends away became a week or so in the summer, most summers.

Now when you read "cabin," I hope you aren't picturing anything luxurious. As a junior in college a friend of a friend invited us up to someone from their French classes cabin out by Manti, UT or somewhere. THIS was a cabin. It had a huge game room, pool table, snow mobiles, a big screen tv and a giant movie collection. This was not the "cabin" that I grew up with.

My parents' cabin is a small, green, metal roofed A-frame loft cabin with no running water and no electricity. Everything is gas powered, sort of like the lanterns you use when camping. There's a gas powered stove/oven. There was a gas powered fridge until it almost killed us several years ago by leaking gas so we got rid of it and have lived out of coolers since then. Baths were avoided. As kids we took them in a big tin tub on the kitchen table. The invention, or greater marketing of baby wipes has been a huge improvement to our cabin. And my brother and brother-in-law have in recent years used the slope of the hill to create water pressure of some sort so that the cabin has "running water" of sorts... or so I hear.

I've always explained it to people as a glorified tent... a metal tent. A 60s time warp metal tent since all the furniture inside is cast-offs from that era. But it has charm. And I have so many great memories of that cabin. Even Princess Sparkley, who has only been there once when she was 11 months old can remember something about lots of moths being there.*

The cabin being without electricity made it so we went to bed early and woke up with the sun. We listened to songs and baseball games on the radio. We played board games and card games, new and old. I think the only time I've ever played Old Maid is at the cabin. We studies Utah bird books. Built puzzles. Read book after book. Fashioned hiking sticks. Went on hikes. Fed the chipmunks and blue jays. Watched for deer, told stories about the bear that visited before my lifetime. We had to be creative with our meals.

My family built a new cabin this year. It is much bigger. It has running water AND electricity. We're all visiting in July. My kids are beside themselves with excitement, as am I. I have a mental list going of what to bring (mostly games, sleeping bags, bike helmets to ride on my dad's quads, etc). But every once in awhile I get sad. However great the electricity aspect of this new cabin will be, I don't want it to change the cabin experience of my childhood. Luckily there will be no tv, still books, puzzles, games, hikes, and the fun family bonding that I remember.

Although I might *might* miss all of us sleeping in one room (but all of us has gone from 5 to 20), falling asleep as we talk.


*The cabin was over run with moths the year we went with PS. Seriously, OVERRUN. We were swatting them out of the air like baseballs. There were hundreds. It was gross, and absolutely hilarious. I'm not sure how PS remembers this because we haven't spoken about the moths in years, but when we talk about the cabin, she remembers moths.

Treasurer

When Jed and I were first married we assigned family jobs to each other. Somehow I ended up being our family treasurer* which is slightly humorous to me since I haven't had a math class since high school... on purpose.

Jed gets slightly annoyed when I get overdraft charges on our checking account or the occasional late payment on a credit card. Mostly he is very sweet and understanding since I break down in hysterics every time this happens. And these aren't every day occurrences, these are once or twice a year occurrences. Mostly these things are due to me never recording our receipts in our checkbook, and then taking even longer to balance the checkbook. But hey, I'm a busy lady. I have three kids. I homeschool our daughter. I'm Primary President. I have a hat full of excuses.

I balanced our checkbook tonight. This is the longest it has ever been. I actually recorded a bunch of receipts a couple months ago and never got around to balancing it. Then when my wallet was about to burst with receipts I recorded more, and still never balanced it. We had a tax return in there, etc. I wasn't worried about the amount of money in our checking account. But the little internal balance I have in my head started ticking that we should soon be running out of tax return money** and I should actually balance our checkbook.

So I sat down tonight with 10 notebook pages filled with receipt entries dating back to January 3, 2009. Over 4 months ago!!! And I opened up our bank account online and started matching stuff up.

The problem?? When I ended, I thought we had $300+ more than the bank thought we had. That's not good. Then I remembered that there was a check number that I'd failed to record and I needed to check how much it was for... almost $300. I'm getting closer to balanced. Then I realize that the $100+ I just made on ebay hasn't transferred into the account yet even though I've written it down. Even closer. While doing this I notice another skipped check and it's for about $200 (what's with me forgetting to write down the big checks??).

So my being off by $330.98 is now being off by $65.52***. Not bad. But still, what did I spend that $65.52 on that I didn't keep the receipt or write it down. Or, could it be my miscalculations as I punched in 10 pages of transactions on the computer's calculator while rocking out to my Napster songs. I think I'll blame it on the little receipts here and there that Jed forgets to give to me (like the one he handed me the other day from early 2008... maybe I should have hung on to that).

*To help me be our family treasurer, or perhaps, Family Treasurer, Jed bought me Microsoft Money a couple of years back. Except I never record anything in there, and I only upload our bank information with more than 90 day intervals in between uploads, so our Money account currently has huge holes in it's record and thinks that we have negative seven and a half thousand dollars. That's not good, and I don't like seeing all those red numbers, so I avoid it again for another 90+ days and the vicious cycle continues.

**Don't worry, we didn't just put it in our checking account and spend it without knowing it. A lot got transferred into savings, spent on big things, or used to pay of debt and school expenses.

***Now I'm actually going to have to pull out all of our paper bank statements and cross reference them with my notebook pages. Which would have been smarter than using the computer version that I can't mark up, but the bank statements are all filed away in a filing cabinet in Baby X's room and it's after midnight.


NOTE: Jed read this and was worried that I had all sorts of overdraft charges... you can be rest assured that our balance is still in the positive and there were no overdraft charges for the 4 months I balanced.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Strollerless


image from Target.com

So, I just sold my stroller on Craiglist. The one I use. I figured when I listed everything I should list it as well so that it had longer to sell if it needed it. The woman who wanted it wanted it ASAP. So, she picked it up this afternoon (along with the infant car seat that clips into it... at least we weren't still using the car seat too). As soon as I realized it was going to sell I went to Target.com and made up my mind. I've ordered the Evenflo X Sport Plus Umbrella Stroller and used my AAA discount. Hopefully it arrives soon and hopefully I love it.

Easter Ideas

My mom was a kindergarten and first grade teacher, so we always had a lot of fun crafts to do for the holidays. This was always one of my favorite Easter bunny things... or something similar to this.

Easter Bunny Paper Helicopter

This Egg Shell Mosaic is more of an after Easter craft when you are busy eating all of your hardboiled eggs.

Our library storytime did this awhile back with water bottle lids, but I like this colorful plastic egg snake even better.

Since we're trying to learn origami over here, this origami rabbit might be fun.



Scroll down a bit on this page to make a paper plate bunny candy dish... my kids made one at music class last week and they turned out great.

And how cute are these bunny envelopes from Martha Stewart?

I was trying to find something reminiscent of these tiny little pink bunny baskets we'd fold and glue together then fill with some Easter grass and some jelly beans when I was a kid. I found this, which isn't really the basket from my childhood, but is cute all on its own.

The Crafty Crow always has so many fun craft ideas for each holiday, I especially loved these bunnies to stick in cupcakes.

My mom sent me me this link for folding your dinner napkins into bunnies.

And if you still need craft ideas for your plastic Easter eggs that have taken over the house, check out this site.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Northern Virginia/Washington DC here we come

We've decided. George Mason University in Fairfax, VA is our next stop. So we'll live in either northern Virginia in or around Fairfax, or in Washington DC and Jed can take the Metro to and from school. We've even reserved our Penske truck and are shocked and thrilled at how cheap it was. I mean, it wasn't cheap, but it cost us three times more for a truck to move here from California.*

My mind had been taken over now with how to make all of this work. Where will we live? How will we move? Etc.

Two small concerns, among the much larger are these:

I need an new umbrella stroller. I've been saying as soon as we stopped using the baby car seat that snapped into our stroller for Baby X that I'd get an umbrella stroller. I just keep putting it off. And now I need one because I know Jed is going to say no way, no how to bringing our stroller on our Utah trip in July among all the other stuff we have to drive across the country, and I like having a stroller wherever we are. And now, moving to such a big city, and needing to get around on the Metro, I'll definitely need a smaller, more maneuverable stroller. But I've just finished reading reviews of my contenders (Jeep Wrangler, Evenflo X Sport Plus, Chicco, Maclaren, and Combi Flare) and I'm so confused. Each has reviews all across the board.

Here is what I want:
an umbrella stroller
lightweight
easy to fold
easy to store
adjustable or taller handles (Jed is 6'3")
storage underneath
sun shade
affordable (probably right around $50, give or take)
not horrible looking
I think I want a shoulder harness rather than just a waist belt

Any stroller company want to send me a stroller to review?? :)



The other, much bigger thing on my mind is where we will live. Not just which city, but specifically where. It's an expensive part of the country, which stinks because we are in Kansas to escape California (the other expensive part of the country). I've been looking around at various rental sites (ie: hotpads.com) and on Craigslist.org. Here's the deal, the people running scams on Craigslist are ridiculous. I'm not really responding to ads yet because we wouldn't move in until after August 1 and don't really want to pay rent somewhere for the next 3-4 monts. There have been two ads on Craigslist that have seemed way too good to be true (an awesome house with a huge yard and tons of ammenities for $1300/month and a beautiful 3 bedroom townhome/apartment in DC for $800/month). While I knew it was too good to be true, I also figured I had to at least inquire to know for sure it was a scam.

Both properties were flagged and removed shortly after I emailed the poster, and before I received a return email. Both return emails gave me way way way too much information. It's like they were creating an entire life's history so I wouldn't think it was a scam. But here's the thing, when I'm interested in renting their house, I don't need to know stuff like:
  • they are the oldest of 4 kids
  • which department they teach in at which University
  • which out of country University they've been transferred to
  • or that they are living in another country, but traveling for a long time in another, more remote country
  • that their dad is a state chiropractor working for a baptist church in another Virginia town**
  • Etc.
Plus, being the internet research queen that I am, with all the information they gave me, and their names, I was able to google search them and find out stuff like the University of London doesn't even have a zoology program. Idiots!

Both also insisted that they would only rent to god-fearing, church-going people who would respect, maintain, take care of, and treat the house like it was their own. Are the scam artists out to get good, church-going Christians?



So we're moving. We know where to, sort of. I need recommendations for a good umbrella stroller and any suggestions or help for where to look for a place to live. And I have lots of stuff to sell on ebay still (I totally underestimated the shipping costs on my first batch of sales and am kicking myself over it) and on Craigslist for the big stuff (double stroller, anyone? Little People sets?? Entertainment center that I love and Jed hates? Crappy TV?).


*If only I could remember how big that truck was so I know if all of our stuff will fit in this truck.
**Are people really stupid enough to believe that there is such a thing as a state chiropractor, that a church would have a chiropractor, and that a state chiropractor would get transferred to be the chiropractor for a church????

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Piece of Pie



There are some things I shouldn't be allowed to do because my brain can't think hard enough to wrap itself around whatever it is I'm trying to figure out. One is photocopying booklets back to back and making sure they are all right side up, etc. The other is sewing stuff together... I'm always having to remove the stitches from an entire side of a blanket or something because I've sewn the wrong sides of fabric together. Making my apron about gave me an aneurysm. And I once tried to sew a Superman cape for someone and I made the Superman symbol backwards THREE TIMES!!! before I figured out where I was going wrong. Ahh. Most of my sewing mishaps take place late at night when my brain isn't functioning at full capacity, but I can't use that excuse for everything.

I made this Lemonade Cheesecake Pie the other day and commented that the next time I made it I'd use less lemonade concentrate. I'm making it right now for my husband to take to a men's event at church tonight. And I remembered to use less concentrate but it's still super lemony. So I read the recipe again. It calls for 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed. Hmm... I believe I used half a can, rather than 1/2 a cup. Which is probably about 6 oz. vs. 4 oz. And perhaps last time I read the recipe correctly and even 4 oz. was too much, in that case, 6 oz. was WAY too much. Oh well, I hope these guys tonight enjoy super lemony sweet Cheesecake Pie. Maybe I'll add an extra layer of Cool Whip on top.

I believe I need to read this book, The Mommy Brain by Katherine Ellison to convince myself that my brain hasn't left my body.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Odd Duck*

A blog and real-life friend of mine always shares fun stories** of the odd ducks she finds in her day to day life. I've recently had one of my own, so I thought I'd share.

Several months ago we got a new neighbor. I was excited when I saw wicker furniture coming out of a moving trailer because I was almost definitely sure that college-aged kids don't own wicker furniture. I was right. (Well, I was right about it being an older woman, there might be college kids somewhere with wicker furniture.) We figured having an old lady next door would be great, assuming she liked kids. Jed and I aren't super outgoing people. We haven't known any of the other neighbors we've had especially well. Mostly we just wave hello and goodbye, or not if they are annoying.

The first time I saw this woman to confirm that she was indeed an older woman, I smiled and said hi. She ignored me. She hung up dark burgundy black out curtains in all her windows. I tried again with the hellos when we passed. She ignored me again. I told Jed I thought maybe she was deaf based on her blatantly ignoring me, but also because the night before she'd been hammering at like 11 PM and the other neighbors had banged on the wall and she'd kept going like she hadn't heard them. Several weeks later (yes, we should have known she was weird based on how infrequently she leaves her house) Jed had the chance to see her and he looked her in the face and said hello and she ignored him. He decided either she was deaf, rude or both.

Months later our carpet up against her kitchen is damp so I call maintenance to check it out. They can't get into her apartment. She doesn't have a phone (backing up our deafness assumption) and she freaks out if they try to enter because she thinks they are breaking in. After this, she parks her car in front of the building next to ours for a couple weeks, instead of in front of her own building.

I see her leave now and then with a backpack and golf clubs. And sometimes large piles of groceries that she's taking from her house to her car (not the normal routine with groceries). She's switched the black out curtains to white curtains (or really more like a sheet blocking out the whole window and never opened). Enough time has gone past that we've fallen into ignoring her.

Last night, just about this time, I was home alone... well, the kids were in bed. Jed was at school and there's a knock at the door. It's right about time that Jed could be getting home, but still a little early. And he has keys, so that's a little strange of him to knock. And it's 9:30, so no one we know would really be popping in for a chat. I look through our blinds just in time to see the weird neighbor lady impatiently jiggling our door knob. I open the door and she asks me very nicely if her niece Elizabeth is home. She's holding in her hand a plate with two hot dogs in buns and other stuff, and on the ground by her feet is a bowl filled with what sort of looks like a cracked open raw egg***. I look at her strangely and say no while pondering what do I say... she's not here, you have the wrong house, etc. She gets sort of frustrated, picks up the egg bowl and walks away.

Odd Duck.


*I chose this title because a college friend and roommate used to call strange people this (or maybe she called them strange ducks, I don't remember) AND because I don't know how to pluralize weirdo... is it weirdos or weirdoes?

**I can't link you to her because she's a private blog now, but rest assured, she leads the contest of weirdo run-ins.

***At book club tonight I heard about people putting canned peach slices on cottage cheese or Cool Whip or something to look like a raw egg as an April Fool's joke, so maybe that's what it was.


Postscript: I don't mean to make light of this woman's situation if she really does have dementia or something of that sort. But I was a little freaked out by her sudden, confused friendliness.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wiiiiiiiii

Over Spring Break my kids were introduced to the Nintendo Wii at Grandma and Grandpa's house, specifically Wii Sports. Other than the fighting over which sport to play (which is no different than every day life) they loved it.

Our kids are pack rats . . . I don't know where they get it from {my eyes wander to the ceiling to avoid making eye contact with any of you}. So this introduction and love for the Wii was the perfect opportunity for me to start selling all their toys on ebay, craigslist, and at a yard sale with the promise that with the money we make, we'll buy a Wii. It is something the whole family will enjoy, like nothing else we own, and it takes up way less room than Fisher Price Little People buildings of all varieties and Little Tykes Fred Flintstone style cars.

Plus, Jed and I are seriously dredding packing up and moving everything we own in a few months. When we made the move from California to Kansas 3 1/2 years ago, we figured we were never really moving west again so we brought everything with us (childhood memorabilia, etc.*) This included an incredibly large truck from Budget or Uhaul or somewhere, towing our car that was also packed full (which is not encouraged when towing a car behind said truck). On this trip, I'll be driving the car full of kids so we won't be able to pack every part of it to the roof. And we still had to leave a bunch of stuff behind.**

I thought we'd brought everything we'd ever owned, but as Princess Sparkley has gotten older, I realize that I left all my old Barbie's and their clothes, along with huge assortments of chapter books from my childhood.*** My sweet mother keeps searching through her house, attic, storage shed, etc. for all the specific books I'm looking for, but still hasn't located them all.

And now, we own even more, including a couch and bunkbeds that we didn't bring here with us. Yikes. So we are spring cleaning over here... trying to get rid of stuff, earn some money for a Wii, and not set a pack rat example for our kids. I keep telling them, "See, mom and dad are getting rid of stuff to," as I drive a huge box of VHS tapes to Goodwill.



*Which reminds me there is a sandbox somewhere at my in-law's house that didn't fit in our moving truck, so when they moved to St. Louis a year after us, they brought it with them... maybe we'll pick it up on our move further east... I guess it depends on where we end up living.

**Including a cat, but that was Tallulah's own fault for refusing to get in the truck.

*** I'm starting to panic that she's fast approaching Babysitter's Club prime reader age and my enormous, painstakingly obtained, read and reread collection is lost at my parents' in California.
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