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

We've moved!

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back to School


Kansas started school a couple of weeks ago. Virginia doesn't start until after Labor Day (which, in my mind, is when school should start). We're following Jed's university calendar and starting on Monday. I figure the last day of August is almost September, and that's when school should start... September.

Here's the problem with homeschooling... back to school isn't quite as exciting. I love shopping for school supplies (Princess Sparkley informed me earlier this week that she does as well). But with homeschooling, I don't have a list provided by the school of all the things my second grader and *gulp* Kindergartner need for the school year. I don't even really need anything. We have our library cards. We have our internet connection. I've renewed my membership with Enchanted Learning. I found the box of missing office supplies so we now have rulers and staplers and pens and pencils and hole punches. We already had markers and crayons and colored pencils coming out of our ears. I gave up long ago buying my kids their own coloring paper, they just use our printer paper.

I am planning a trip to Walgreens and Office Depot to check out their student workbooks. I especially like the ones put out by School Zone that Walgreens carries and Mead that Office Depot carries. In a bit I'll check out the giant workbooks at Sam's Club to see if any of them are worth our money.

We've mapped out the school year, but not quite the lesson plans. We're just about set to go. I just have to buckle down and get in the right mode. Buddy is already in the right mode. He's THRILLED for school to start. He asked me the other day when he's going to learn to read (her reading has become a huge separation between he and Princess Sparkley since they are only 20 months apart). This morning I asked him what he was excited about most in school starting and he told me "learning about weather." Princess Sparkley is another story. She freaks out at the mention of school. She'd rather spend her days in some crazy half real/half dress-up outfit - lounging on her bed, my bed, the couch, the floor - reading a book.

*This chart is one of two. This is how we mapped out the school year. We're breaking free of a virtual school this year and just going out on our own. (Ahhh!) Mostly, we're following the Virginia Standards of Learning for each of the respective grades, making sure we teach them what they are supposed to learn (because at the end of the school year, in Virginia, they'll have to be tested/evaluated to make sure they've progressed).

Each day of the chart has two columns. PS's are pink, Buddy's are orange and blue. Underneath are the lessons they'll share the same: history, science, art, Spanish, health and PE. The post-its are English (Language Arts and Phonics) and math, where they'll have their own lessons and work. PS's lessons that they share will be a bit more in depth and with more work. Buddy's will be the basics. We'll see how it works out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Move Update

***Update*** I went through our shed today and didn't find the box. So I attacked the Harry Potter Closet again and found a box marked "Yearbooks and Photo Albums," but it was a cardboard box, and I know all of our yearbooks and photos are now in Rubbermaid containers, so I pulled it out, flipped it over and saw that it was marked "Office and Pencils." Hooray. It also has our computer discs in it which we were looking for the other day.

We've opened every box we moved unless it was labeled with the name of a holiday. Yet... still missing are Jed's pencil collection. I know that all of our nice pens and pencils are in there. And I've discovered what else is probably in that box, both of our three hole punches. This is frustrating because I really needed a three whole punch last night.

Where is this mystery box? Last weekend I went through all the toy boxes I swore I wasn't going to unpack and didn't find the pencil collection. And I went through the game boxes. No pencil collection. And we rechecked the Harry Potter storage closet under our stairs. Nope. We started to check our outdoor shed where all of our holiday decorations, outgrown kid carseats and such are being stored. But it started raining and then pouring so we abandoned that almost as soon as we started. I guess that's next on my list to do...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Release Party

image from amazon

Anyone who is an avid reader, music listener, movie goer, or General Conference attendee knows about waiting for the release, standing in lines, maybe even attending a release party. When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released in 2000, some friends and I attended the release party at midnight at the Barnes and Noble in Orem, Utah. All I really remember about this party was getting Harry Potter glasses and a lightening bolt tattoo to apply to our foreheads if we so desired. And the book, of course I got the book and spent the next 12 hours or so reading it.

Princess Sparkley enjoys these Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer and Matthew Holm. For her birthday, one of her grandma's sent her a check. She decided to order this t-shirt she's wearing below from Cafe Press and buy the newest Babymouse book (since she'd already read the rest). We had to wait until today to get the book because today was it's release date. And Borders didn't have it. But it turned out they did. There was no party at midnight last night. No lines of hyperactive little girls. It wasn't on disply as a new release. They checked the store inventory and saw that yes, they were supposed to have it, so they went in back and found it for us. Nothing exciting, but she got her book.

When we arrived home Jed congratulated her on getting her first book on its release date. Can you tell we're bookworms over here? She's already read it. Probably twice.

If only the t-shirt had arrived BEFORE we went to the store to buy the book... then it would really have been like a release party.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I've fallen a bit out of the habit of regularly blogging... what with packing up all of our worldly belongings, moving halfway across the country, and then having to unpack them and all. I'm trying to be better. Throughout the day I have all these little ideas and my brain jumps on them thinking, "that's a great blog post." And then the day continues on and by the time the kids are in bed and I can actually sit at the computer for a minute... my brain is mush and I remember nothing. Here are some random thoughts to fill-in for the AWESOME blog ideas until I remember them:

  • We got drenched in rain at the National Zoo on Saturday and I'm blaming that on my current cold. *Sneeze.*
  • I got to see pandas at the zoo. I love pandas. I have since I was a little girl. And a few years ago I read this book, which made seeing pandas alive in captivity at a zoo seem even more special.
  • We have been going to be at 11 o'clock California time on quite a regular basis. I'll let you do the math. I'm also blaming my cold on that.
  • We've been waiting for this move to renew our T-Mobile* contract and get new phones. Now that we're here and have been shopping around, it still looks like T-Mobile fits what we need best. I didn't want to pay such a high activation fee though and thought that maybe as current customers it would be waved. It is. So we logged on today to start the process of upgrading our phones and we hit some snags. First, Jed isn't on the account. So we had to add him so he could talk to the guy rather than me with my sore throat. Then when we called back later in the day, I had to add him to the account again, because instead of putting Jed, they left out a letter. Then we go to look at what phones we can get and there are way fewer to pick from as returning customers. And only two are free. So we finally decide it's still better than paying an activation fee with another phone company, we get everything in our virtual cart and go to check out. Oh, wait. There's an upgrade fee. Still not as steep as an activation fee. But a not free phone and an upgrade fee did not make us happy. Tonight I logged on to see how much their activation fee was versus AT&T and it turns out there's a special right now online and T-Mobile is waiving their activation fees. My new phones arrive in 2-4 days. Hooray.
  • I can get library cards for at least two surrounding towns/counties. This is exciting news because I'm becoming more and more disappointed in my local library district. First, they have almost no movies or TV seasons on dvd. Second, their book selection seems very limited as well. The only problem is, the nearest library that I've come across so far, that has Ugly Betty, CSI and the Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures books, is 30 minutes away when there is no traffic. And the chance of no traffic in its city is very slim.
  • Only two people have commented on my Bake and Blog contest where you get to pick what I bake and blog about. One is my husband volunteering to take pictures of my while I bake and requesting that I am scantily clad. The other wants a zucchini recipe, and I only have one of those. Hurry and comment.
  • I got myself fairly lost today trying to find a Sam's Club but then got myself successfully unlost with the use of our new map.
  • We now live sort of near an Ikea. While in Kansas we'd often debate about whether or not we'd go to Minnesota or Texas in order to explore Ikea once more. Obviously, we did neither. Or maybe that's not so obvious becuase we go on all sorts of crazy trips to see weird stuff and get counties.
  • I'm offf to bake this, assuming I have all the ingredients. It's still not even 11 on the East Coast, I have plenty of time. :)

*If you have T-Mobile you can call me for free and we can chat and chat and chat to our hearts content. Unless you are an internet stalker (not of the friendly blog stalking variety).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

the South

Apparently I live in the South now. This whole time I thought we were moving to the East Coast (which I guess we did), but I failed to realize the fact that Virginia is considered one of the southern states. I should post a Confederate flag here to annoy my sister-in-law who also lives in Virginia. Coming from the West Coast originally, the fact that anyone still flies/displays a Confederate flag is a shock. And other than a brief layover to switch planes in Charlotte, North Carolina several years ago, the furthest south I've been on the East Coast is Petersburg, VA. Still not very "south" in my book. But when we were preparing for this move, and I was looking for places to rent or buy, one of the townhomes had two pictures trying to allure me into buying it that cracked me up. The first picture was of the front of the home, where, in the driveway was parked one of those giant pick-up trucks with those rabbit ear headlights on its roof. The second picture was of the large, poorly furnished basement rec room that included a giant Confederate flag hanging above the door or fire place... somewhere like that in a place of importance. Seriously, this is crazy to me. It makes me a little bit afraid to visit a southern state that is further south, say Georgia or Mississippi. And what about Florida? Is it considered the South??

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blog Contest

Leave a comment here suggesting my next dish to
Bake and Blog
about by August 31 when
I go to bed... which you all know is late.

This is a different sort of contest. Here's what I want from you... you decide what you want me to bake for my Bake and Blog segment (I'll pretend that this is a big time blog and I have segments and such).

Enter a comment here, anything you want me to Bake and Blog about (as long as it isn't something I've already blogged about) and I'll take the challenge. It can be something totally new or, if you know me in real-life, something you know I make and make well, or something that was a runner up in previous Bake and Blog poll. I'll pull your name out of a hat... or rather, Princess Sparkley will pull your name out of a hat since Buddy did it last time I had a contest and we're all about FAIRNESS here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I naively thought that leaving Kansas meant no more creepy bugs. Jed and I walked into the kitchen, filled two bowls with Moose Track ice cream, walked to the living room, ate some ice cream. Jed finished his ice cream, returned to the kitchen and then hollered out on his way back to the couch. THIS, was in the path we'd just crossed numerous times in the past five minutes. THIS:

image from BugGuide.Net
Because we aren't brave enough willing to take the glass off of this
creature in order to get a picture without a flash spot.

And it's speedy. Jed and I were worried that it was going to be able to knock over the glass we captured it in because it freaked out and was all over the place. I can almost handle creepy alone, and speedy alone... but creepy AND speedy TOGETHER! Eek.

Jed and I were both flabbergasted by what it could be. Our guess: part scorpion, part centipede. I read up on it online and it's a house centipede that eats spiders and you want around. But seriously... I don't want this thing around. I'm not going to be able to sleep at night. Where did it come from?!?


When we moved to Kansas almost four years ago Jed had quit his job and was going back to school full-time. As a way to spend less money, we basically stopped buying books. In the past four years (not including kids' books) we've probably only bought 2 dozen books. I realize that to most people, that isn't "stopped buying," but this is how many books we own:

Actually, it's not all of them. This doesn't include most of our kid books, or an entire little bookshelf of textbooks, reference books, or any of the books that we've found randomly shoved in the boxes we're still unpacking.

Needless to say, I've become heavily dependent on my library. I assumed that moving to a larger metro area would automatically mean a much more stocked library (not that the one in Kansas was lacking). Plus, our new library is a library system, involving multiple libraries... more room for more stuff, right? We got our new library cards as soon as we had received mail at our new address proving our address.

Along with the "stopped buying" of books, we also never got cable. All of our "TV watching" is movies or TV show episodes (either owned, online, or checked out from the library or Redbox). I checked our new library's catalog next week figuring that pretty soon the most recent seasons of TV shows like Ugly Betty and CSI would be available on dvd. AND our library DOESN'T have TV shows on dvd. WHAT?!?! So I checked the next county/city over to see if we could get cards for their library. And we can, hooray. BUT they don't have TV seasons on dvd either. AHHH. What am I going to do? How am I ever going to know what happens on my shows?

I'm considering Netflix, but don't really want an added expense. Maybe the Topeka Library would still mail me stuff in Virginia??

Monday, August 17, 2009


Tomorrow will mark two weeks in our Virginia home. And I think we're starting to be settled. Buddy even told me yesterday on the way home from church that he never wants to move from here. That's a huge improvement from our move from California to Kansas when PS was three and she told us for 2 1/2 years that she still hated Kansas and liked California better.

Jed moved the mess that was left downstairs up to our room earlier today, so now, the downstairs in perfectly clean. My bedroom looks like a tornado hit, but we're not in Kansas anymore, so I suppose it looks like a tropical storm or hurricane hit, but without the water. I have only unpacked about 1/4 of the kids toys (they haven't really noticed other than a beloved item here or there) and none of the games. Baby X's room is part storage room, filled about a quarter with boxes of out-grown baby clothes, and the book boxes that we don't have shelves for, or places for the shelves. His closet is holding the game and toy boxes I'm refusing to unpack.

What keeps driving me nuts is the one little item I can't find. First it was my pizza cutter. I noticed it was missing and if one little kitchen item was missing, that meant there was another whole box of kitchen stuff missing. Then I found the pizza cutter already put away in a cupboards... phew. Next it was the toothbrush holder, which meant that there was still an entire bathroom box missing. And while we gained 300 square feet in this move, the bathrooms here are much smaller, so another box of stuff I needed to figure out how to cram into a bathroom was not good news. I eventually found it, upside down, with the box's old label "picture frames with glass" facing up. Now I can't find Jed's souvenir pencil collection. Not really such a big deal, except it is also where every working pen and pencil we own is with all the other missing office stuff that I can't even remember.

So, we're mostly settled, but not completely. I'm just crossing my fingers that my room isn't always the one messy room in the house. Our bedroom in Kansas was only clean two times in the entire time we lived there.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Every kid wants to join, start or be a part of a club, right? Or so Princess Sparkley's constant starting up of new clubs has reminded me about my own childhood. But there was never a club I really wanted to join as a kid... at least not of the official variety. I wanted to eat Girl Scout Cookies, but not be a girl scout. 4H seemed too farmy. G.A.T.E. bored me with lots of Lego building. So when I became an adult and book clubs became popular, I was thrilled.

With our move away from the book club I started in Kansas, I am club-less. And with our upcoming schedule, I'm not sure I could fit in a book club meeting anyway. So I've brought back my online book club. It started as a few friends of mine from BYU... mostly English or English-teaching majors, but one music PhD. as well, to mix things up. And now I'm opening it up to any of my friends/readers here that also want to be part of a club, but can't fit a regular book club meeting into their schedule.

Our first book is Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor. The discussion will start here on August 28th. I'll post... something, my thoughts, I guess. And you can comment. We'll see how things go.

Princess Sparkley Celebrates Seven Years!

At Friendly's with her Monster Mash ice cream sundae.

Our Nation's Capital

I plan to take great advantage of living so close to Washington DC over the next few years... especially as far as our homeschooling is concerned. We made our first visit to the capital as Virginians on Saturday and took in some sights. The kids were threatened that this was a preliminary trip and their behavior would effect the possibility of all future trips when I would be outnumbered three to one while Jed is busy and we're on "school" field trips. They did... okay.

The kids at the Washington Monument.

Baby X at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

Cute Princess Sparkley.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yellow Bird Moves East

We rented an enormous Penske truck for the move. I followed Jed (who either had PS or Buddy with him) in our car with Baby X and whichever kid wasn't riding in the truck. I took pictures from the driver's seat along the way.

Friday, August 07, 2009

We're Not In Kansas Any More*

After packing up all of our earthly belongings** into a 26 foot truck, we drove halfway across the country (about 1,300 miles over 4 days) to our new home in Virginia. We survived the trip. Jed and I single handedly unloaded the truck by ourselves (including a ginormous desk that has to weigh 4 times as much as me, a super heavy filing cabinet, a California King sized bed which we had to practically fold to make it take the bend in our new stairway, a refrigerator and about 15,000 boxes). Our kids have adjusted well. They stayed with Jed's sister while we signed our lease and moved all the stuff in. When we picked them up the next day and brought them home it was a mess, but Baby X was especially excited to recognize stuff like our couch and our table. Princess Sparkley is in heaven because two doors down is a family with FOUR girls aged 7.5, 6, 4 and 2 and they all (except the toddler) have hair to the waists. She may never let me cut her hair again. Buddy doesn't mind that their new friends are all girls. Was the situation reversed, PS would be complaining about how unfair it was. I've driven around town on more than one occassion without getting lost. And, we already each have our own new library card. We're set. I just need to take care of some little things like changing our address with all of our credit cards, subscriptions, etc. as well as getting our internet set-up. So far, it seems like getting approved to live here, signing the lease, and getting the internet working ... oh, and the drive out here, will be the hardest things yet. But those are stories for other days. Right now we are here, and tomorrow we're setting out to explore our nation's capital.

*Thanks Cristin for the title.

**I'm fairly certain that I still have some books, roller skates, and Barbies at my parents house. And that's just what I remember. And along the way we picked up 12 boxes of books and some random childhood memorabilia from Jed's parents' home.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Leaving Kansas

I've been trying really hard not to actually think about the leaving Kansas part of our move. When we left California nearly four years ago for Kansas, everyone thought we were crazy. We were also a little skeptical about what our experience in Kansas would be. But honestly, we have loved it here. We've basically spent half of our marriage in California and the other half in Kansas. If it wasn't for my family in California (the beach, great weather, and certain restaurants*) , Kansas would win, hands down.

So, thank you to our friends in Kansas. People who invite my kids over to play no matter how many times I never reciprocated. Friends who have watched my kids during my doctor appointments, and Baby X's doctor appointments. Music class on Fridays at the church with all the little kids. Music class field trips in the summer when school is out. Apple picking. Strawberry picking. Blueberry picking. Asparagus picking. Trips to the Pumpkin Patch. The Topeka Zoo. Deanna Rose Farmstead. The preschool groups we've been involved in. The friends we've met here who have already moved away. The people who I've worked with in church callings, and who have supported me in my church callings. Everyone who has made our family feel welcome, and part of the group. My friends who have come and been excited about the book club I started here. I could go on and on, but if I do I would start thinking about the fact that we're leaving Kansas, and that's not something I can handle right now.

While we're excited to go to Virginia, no one is really looking forward to leaving Kansas. We just keep telling ourselves that maybe we'll find a job back in Kansas in three years and we'll be returning. So really, this is just a 3 year long vacation and then we'll come home.

Besides the people, here's what I'll miss about Kansas:

  • Muncher's Bakery cream cheese donuts
  • Deanna Rose Farmstead in Overland Park, KS
  • The cheese salsa dip at El Mezcal
  • Steak and Shake vanilla milkshakes (Do they have these in Virginia?)
  • Beautiful fields
  • Fields of wheat and corn and soy beans and sunflowers
  • Sylas and Maddy's ice cream shop with all of its unique flavors (One of my faves was LadyBug Crunch... Strawberry ice cream with crushed OREOS)
  • The local library who has supplied me with almost all of the books I've read over the past 4 years
  • A library that has ordered almost every book or dvd that I've asked them to
  • Library storytime
  • Lawrence's cool downtown
  • HS football games in the big college stadiums so our kids think we're at a KU game
  • Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurant (my kids LOVE this place, me, not so much)

*There are other great things about California, and we did have some friends there that we've missed, but it doesn't compare to the friends we've had in Kansas these past 4 years.
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