"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

Friday, October 30, 2009


I've been worrying a lot lately that I'm not doing a good enough job preparing my kids for life. I want them to grow up and already be in the habit of making their beds, cleaning up after themselves, having jobs to do around the house, etc. In May I made up chore charts for the kids. Mainly this was so Princess Sparkley could earn enough money to pay for a pink Leapster before 1) our drive from Kansas to Utah and back and 2) our move from Kansas to Virginia. I even over inflated how much I would normally pay her for a week's worth of mainly completed chores so she'd earn the Leapster in time.

My dream was that these chores would become regular habits so I didn't have to spend the first three hours of my morning continually reminding them to make their beds and brush their teeth. Mainly it has just transformed to me reminding them all day that they haven't marked anything off of their chore charts.

We don't really like paying the kids for stuff they should be doing as a member of our family, and when we moved to Virginia and money was tighter, we switched what they earned to being dessert. If they did a good job with their chores all week, we'd either make a yummy dessert, or go for McDonald's dollar Sundaes. This doesn't work either because I LOVE MAKING DESSERTS. So it happens a lot. Usually more than once a week. I decided this week that we would go back to them earning money, but the money they earn will be what the other kid uses to buy a Christmas present for his/her siblings. This way, PS is bugging Buddy to do his chores because she'll get a more expensive present out of it, and vice versa. We'll see how it goes. So far Buddy has ignored his chore chart since Monday evening and when I reminded him about it today he went and crossed off everything he "remembered" doing. Including getting dressed every day this week (even the days that have yet to happen).

Baby Leash

from here

I'm considering buying one, but I'm actually opposed to baby leashes. (Or, for the PC term, baby harnesses). You know, those harnesses parents put on their kids when they take them in public. I've been lucky that my kids have never climbed out of a shopping cart, and for the most part, are content to sit in their stroller (provided I keep supplying them with fruit snacks, etc.) so I've never needed one, until now. Plus they are so cute now... like a little fuzzy animal backpack. I think Baby X might really love this puppy one.

Here's my problem... what do I do when, on my own, without Jed, I want to take my kids to a museum in DC that doesn't allow strollers?!? We experienced it briefly at the Air and Space Museum when we were forced to park the stroller and ride an elevator up to the observation tower. But that was a very short period of time, during which Baby X was totally enthralled with airplanes coming in for landing next door at Dulles. And it wasn't a timed anything... when we were done looking, we got back in the elevator and returned to the stroller.

We want to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing... but it doesn't allow strollers. What to do? What to do?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Empty Threats

My kids leave toys everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I've been telling them all week that if they can't clean up after themselves and take care of their toys, I'm going to put all the toys they've left out into a box and I'll give that box to Goodwill. This is actually a pretty good threat since I gave A LOT of stuff to Goodwill, Ebay, and garage sales before we moved from Kansas. But some of their toys I like just as much, possibly even more than they do... so it's really an empty threat. Today I had a better idea. I told them I'd box up the toys they left out, wrap them up, and they'd get them back as Christmas presents. Ideally, I want them to clean up after themselves, but if they don't, I save a lot of money on Christmas presents.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I went to book club this morning with 124 pages left in Maeve Binchy's The Glass Castle. I had a pretty good idea of where things were headed with the plot, and no one gave away the ending for me... so that was nice. I finished it just now, 6 PM. Now I can get back to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol... if only I could convince the kids to go to bed at 7PM.

In other news, Jed and I are in charge of organizing friendship dinners for people at church. We picked a Friday and Saturday in November and the people who wanted to participate could pick a date and whether they wanted to be a guest or a host. I finally got everything worked out, people assigned to be guests in other people's homes and now I wait and see who forgot the date and has something else planned, who the archenemies from church are who I inadvertantly assigned to each other, etc. This should be interesting.

I also baked this pumpkin chocolate chip bread today to drop off at a friend's. Taught Buddy about words and how stringing them together makes sentences. Taught PS about estimating and rounding up. Baby X stayed in his PJs all day and learned the word "home." Made the kids watch a video about Life Cycles that we checked out from the library. Made meatball sandwiches for dinner. Was tracted into by LDS missionaries who are from the Spanish congregation so they didn't know us. That was fun when they found out we were members of their church already. Tomorrow we'll make some pumpkin cookies and use the kids trunk-or-treat candy as faces transforming our pumpkin cookies into Jack-O-Lanterns. Now we're off to munch on some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread for dessert.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Away from the office

I'm in a new book club with ladies from church here in Virginia and with being out of town, and weird church schedules, and me not being on the right email list, I didn't find out what the new book club book was until last Sunday. And of course, the library copies are all checked out, so I picked up my copy from the library one town over this morning. Unfortunately, I found out yesterday at church that book club is tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM. I'm on page 4, only 580 more to go. I might be able to pull this off if Baby X would nap (so far he's just chatting to stuff from his crib) and the kids weren't homeschooled (although all that is left for today is history). Until tomorrow...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fact and Fiction

My mother-in-law sent me her copy of Dan Brown's new book The Lost Symbol since I was person 400 and something on my library's waiting list. It's exciting to read because so far (I'm less than 100 pages into it) it's all taking place in Washington DC. Washington DC is my new town, so I'm looking forward to being able to go investigate and see if what Brown is describing is really there. But what's fact and what's fiction? I'm sure there is some sort of parallel book in the works where some author is making money of Brown's fame by explaining the real and the unreal in this book, but I'm two lazy to read TWO books about the same thing. I guess I'll wait until I've finished reading it, and then maybe I'll do a bit of Wikipedia research... you know, looking for the truth. ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marriage and Haunted Houses

When Jed and I had been married about six months, we flew to Utah for my friend Angela's flute recital at BYU. It was October. We met some of Angela's roommates and I remember one of them asking us if we liked haunted houses. Jed and I sort of looked at each other questioningly. It wasn't a topic that had ever come up. The roommate laughed, assuming that we were the type of BYU couple who got engaged on their second date and were married after a two month engagement. That was not our story.

I laugh now at how well I thought we knew each other then, compared to how well we know each other now. And I'll probably laugh in several years at how well I think I know him now compared to the future.

Jed and I joke about this haunted house question all the time... how apparently, knowing your significant other's opinion on haunted houses is very revealing about your relationship. But every time we bring up this haunted house question, usually this time of year, we still don't know the other's opinion. What it comes down to is... I don't have an opinion. I neither love nor hate them. But I don't seek them out, so I guess I don't like them. Aside from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, I haven't been to one since a family home evening activity my freshman year of college when the girls seriously outnumbered the boys.

So, if you have a significant other, how does he/she feel about haunted houses?


There's always a point at the beginning of a movie, or the first few pages of a book, when I start to panic that I'm not getting everything. I worry that I'm going to miss something, and it'll ruin the whole movie or book for me. Does anyone else feel this panic?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Air and Space

The best part of the Air and Space Museum...

watching planes land at Dulles Airport from the observation/control tower.

Not that the rest of the museum wasn't interesting (although Princess Sparkley was pretty bored), this was just so up close and cool.

Tip: the museum is free, parking is $15 per car. Jed dropped us off at the gate and I walked in with the kids. Although I wouldn't recommend this on a cold, rainy day in October.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Entertainment that makes you cry

I cry at sad movies. I bawl when I read sad books. Jed thinks I am crazy.

One of my favorite bonding memories is from my freshman year at BYU. Angela and I were brand new roommates, strangers really, and we were watching Steel Magnolias. We were both sobbing, and we looked at each other, complete strangers, and started cracking up. Then our laughs and sobs joined together to become snorts. We've been best friends ever since.

In all the research I've done on what makes me cry in movies and books, there are two things that stick out. Unrequited love. And death.

Jed and I have had a long, roller coaster relationship spanning two and a half decades. There weren't really any ups and downs at the beginning when we were just kids, but once puberty hit, there were a lot of hills. There was a point where I knew he was the one for me, that were were going to be married. Then everything fell apart (he'll let you all know this was my fault, and it was). But even during those apart years, I never stopped loving him. I don't think I really knew it at the time, I just knew how much I missed him. This is the root of my crying at unrequited love stories... I think. I'm not a psychologist or anything. But if I were to lie on a doctor's couch and be hypnotized to find out the reason for my tears, I'm pretty sure this is it.

And death. I'm not really alone on this. I think anyone who cries at a book or movie, cries when someone dies. I just can't handle it. I just finished The Time Traveler's Wife* and sobbed through the whole second half. Sobbed. Jed just kept looking at me as tears dripped onto the book and mascara smeared down my face. I can't handle the idea of dying and not being with Jed anymore. Or him dying and leaving me alone. I don't think I'd be able to go on. Or our kids being raised with only one parent. I can't handle even the thought of this. Jed of course has a much more practical view on all of this. If I die, I die. If he dies, he dies. If one of our kids dies... you get the point. We were married for eternity. When one of us dies, we're still a family forever. Of course I believe this, but I would still sob uncontrollably for days, weeks, months, years... forever. So when I'm reading a book, or watching a movie and someone dies, my heart is broken for them.

What's interesting is that I still read all the unrequited love stories, and watch the movies where a loved one dies. They are still good stories. But why is it entertaining to be sad and cry... I haven't figured that out yet.

Do you cry when you read books and watch movies??

*Good book, but if you are sensitive to language or sex, there is a LOT in this book.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Currently wishing for:

a long Autumn
great fashion sense
time to sit down and finish The Time Traveler's Wife
the will to keep reading Galileo's Daughter (which is interesting, but keeps making me fall asleep)
being able to find online something I saw in an Old Navy store today
someone to come fold all my laundry
a toddler who still loved naps
the budget to go crazy buying a new wardrobe
a good movie to watch while I fold laundry
someone to sew Buddy's new blanket/quilt
something besides carpet under my kitchen table
a toddler who wasn't so cranky
a mild Winter
to appear on What Not To Wear (not really, just the fashion tips and credit card)
bags and bags of peanut butter M&Ms
someone to do my ironing
kids who did their chores
to find cute, affordable church shoes for my two boys

Saturday, October 17, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

Jed is anti-Halloween. Mainly he's against adults dressing up and treating it like a real holiday. The word holiday comes from Holy Day, and Halloween doesn't have a whole lot to do with holiness... does it? But he understands that all it is to our kids is a chance to wear a costume and get an enormous amount of candy, so we celebrate Halloween, to a degree.

If I was going to go all out, and throw a Halloween party of something... this would be the menu:

Orange Party Punch

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Chocolate Spiders

Mummy Face Pizzas

Easy Halloween Truffles

Hot Dog Spaghetti Monster

Candy Corn Cookies

or these Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Spooky Brownies

Bakerella's Adorable Tiny Pumpkin Pies

Forked Eyeballs

Apple Bites


My Favorite Halloween Treats from last year, including the pumpkin bar above

Pudding Ghosts

My mom's pumpkin cookies

Plus, I found this website with all sorts of fun Halloween foods.

Wow... I could go on and on with all the great and spooky food out there. Good thing I'm not really having a party or I'd be too warn out from all the cooking to enjoy myself.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Girl Costume

I saw this at Walmart yesterday... how cute is it? Not only to buy, (it was under $20... I can't remember the exact price) but also super simple to make. If only I could talk Princess Sparkley into thinking gnomes were cool and princessy or rock star-like. But any of you out there who have a little girl, talk her into this costume and send me a picture.

Also found here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Costumes for Women

Why is it that a huge percentage of costumes for women are sexy costumes? I mean, I get it... but I'm not wearing something like that out and about for a party, especially a trunk-or-treat at church.

I was browsing the sale items at buycostumes.com and came across some great deals on some pretty cool looking, non-sexy costumes. Here are just a few:

Queen Elizabeth for $39.99

Reyna Isabella for $26.99

for $29.99

Rosie the Riveter for $19.99

Costumes for Grown-Ups

image from here

If Jed and I were to dress up for Halloween, and boxes weren't so awkward to wear, these costumes are hilarious.

Find the Doll Box costume here.
Find the Wheaties Box costume here.
Find the kid sized Wheaties Box costume here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Reports: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Jed and the kids bought me this book for my birthday in June. But this is how Jed shops for me as of late ... he buys me everything he sees that he thinks I might like, gives it all to me, and tells me I can return what I don't like. Since he'd spent a bunch of money he didn't need to spend buying me stuff, I returned this and opted to check it out from the library. And I did.

Jed's reasoning for buying me this book was that I like Jane Austen, and since I like books about vampires (the Twilight series) I was sure to love a book about zombies. I'm not sure that line of thought would work under normal circumstances.

But I did really enjoy this book. It was all the fun of rereading Pride and Prejudice (but much more quickly). There was the excitement for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to finally figure out they love each other, but made funny and exciting by the added twist of a plague of zombies overtaking England. Grahame-Smith did a great job weaving his story of zombies into Austen's original story. I never checked word for word to see if he copied her exact text or not, but I wouldn't be surprised. And he did a great job of mimicking Austen's writing style as he added in his zombie plot. This was much more Austen than I would have expected when I first saw it.

Much to Mrs. Bennet's dismay, her daughters are fighting zombies (as their training in the Orient has taught them to do) rather than chasing husbands. Elizabeth, of course, being the best warrior of her sisters.

It was more funny than gross, but there was much discussion of beheading and some gross descriptions of the dead, brain eating, etc. This book was a little less proper than Austen intended it with some slight sexual innuendo between characters. For instance, whenever balls were mentioned, someone usually blushed due to thinking about the balls possessed by males, not the fancy dances of Austen's original novel. A few characters strayed from their spouses, but it was just mentioned in passing, not described in detail.

I would recommend this story to anyone who likes Jane Austen's original and enjoys a bit of humor. But I would also recommend this story to anyone (like my husband) who would never read Pride and Prejudice, but would find a lot of humor in this version.

Read another review here.

Face Painter Wanted

Princess Sparkley asked for face paint for her birthday. She should have been more specific and asked for a mom who could face paint.

Although, really, I think she just wants to do it all. But how is she going to draw a horrible looking spider on her own forehead?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Books on my Nightstand (assuming I had a nightstand)

These are the books I have currently waiting for me to read them. This isn't counting the books I checked out from the library and was forced to return before I read them because their due date was approaching too quickly.

Currently reading:
Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
Nurk by Ursula Vernon
Pride, Predjudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Waiting to be read:
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Returned to the library before reading:
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin
1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sad Wally

My Red Sox lost. Even with our Wally (their mascot) watching the game on MLB.com for good luck.

Adorable Pumpkin Pies

How adorable are these? And Bakerella says they are really simple. I might just have to take a swing at these this year. So cute!!

Update: I made them.  Not too difficult and really yummy.  I wasted them on 19 year old missionaries from our church who were not impressed with the craftiness and effort that went into making them.  And I wouldn't want to make a whole lot of these.  Too much work for that.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Love Lucy

I've always loved the show I Love Lucy. I watched it after school as a kid while I did my homework. My mom never understood why I'd want to watch. For whatever reason, she was not a fan of the show. But I loved it. I used to own some episodes on VHS tape. Now we just watch clips here and there on youtube. Princess Sparkley and Buddy think they are hilarious. So, in honor of National Candy Month* here's the I Love Lucy candy factory episode.

*It's not really National Candy Month... as far as I know. But, it's Halloween month, so it should be, right?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Halloween Dress-Up

Buddy has been a delivery person of sorts for the past two Halloweens. In 2007 he was a UPS deliverer. In 2008 he was a mail person. After Halloween last year he informed me that for this year he wanted to be one of Santa's elves. See, he's sticking to a theme. I jumped on this idea as a great way our entire family could have a family theme with our costumes.

Here's what I saw in my dream 2009 Halloween:

Buddy wearing some sort of home-fashioned elf costume out of green sweats wearing this hat and these shoes.

image from OrientalTrading Company

Princess Sparkley as a Christmas fairy wearing a green and red skirt made by her paternal grandma, similar to this one that she's wearing here, minus the sword and viking helmet. Plus a wand and some fairy wings.

Me dressed as a Christmas gift wearing a giant bow on my head and a gift tag as a necklace. Very simple and not embarrassing or awkward to wear.

Jed as Santa (I didn't really think this part through much, other than a Santa hat and maybe a pillow stuffed under a red sweatshirt).

And Baby X as a snowman, wearing this costume my sister has that her 5 year old wore several Halloweens ago.

But my kids have all vetoed these ideas now that Halloween is here. And Jed had never really signed on to the Santa idea. Buddy wants to be a fireman. Princess Sparkley has finally settled on a witch after choosing a bunch of different book characters (Clarice Bean, Fashion Kitty, Babymouse) that I told her might be a pain to dress-up as since she'll keep having to not only tell people who she is, but also who that character is. We've vetoed a witch costume in the past but now that we've read Harry Potter together, it's less heathen, I guess. Baby X I suppose will use Buddy's old dinosaur/dragon costume that should fit him this year. And, once again, Jed and I won't dress-up. Which, isn't actually the end of the world... unless you are PS, in which case, she's very disappointed in us.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cracking Us Up

My old neighbor posted a link to this on Facebook. I'm still cracking up over some of these. So, if you need a good laugh, go here.

My Mom's Cinnamon Rolls

minus icing

My Mom's Potato* Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients and Directions:

2 TBSP yeast dissolved in 1 cup warm water

Add 2 TBSP sugar. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water.

Add to the yeast mixture – 1 medium cooked potato (peeled and mashed), 2 eggs, 2 cups milk (scalded**), 1 ½ cups sugar, 3 ½ tsp salt, 4 tsp baking powder and 5 cups flour.

Mix together with mixer.

Then add: 1 ½ cubes butter (melted) and the rest of the flour (about 5 more cups, or more if needed).

Knead 10 minutes. Raise twice. After second raising, divide dough in half – do not punch down the 2nd time. Let rest 10 minutes.

Roll into rectangle – spread with butter (about half a cube per rectangle off dough), brown sugar (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup per rectangle), cinnamon (about 2 tsp per rectangle) and raisins (1 cup which have been plumped*** – optional).

Roll and cut with thread or string or, as my mom and I do it, dental floss.

Bake in greased 9x13 casserole dish at 375 for 20 minutes.

Simple Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla

3 TBSP water (or milk)

*I've always liked telling people that this recipe has a secret ingredient they'll never guess. I've come across potato roll recipes before, and seen potato bread in the store, but it seems like an ingredient in old fashioned bread recipes, and this is the only one I ever make.

*Almost every time I've made these, I've had to call my mom and ask her what scalded means.
Basically about boiling, when the milk starts to stick to the sides of the pan and the spoon.

***Soaked in hot water. I've never done this... I prefer my cinnamon rolls raisin free.

Lost Tooth

Buddy's first lost tooth, age 5 1/2
photo by Princess Sparkey, age 7

Buddy lost his first tooth the other day. He's a year ahead of PS's tooth losing schedule. Thanks to heredity, he also has two more teeth than she does (she's missing two incisors). I took a picture of his mouth the other day. But I think PS captured it all much better than I did.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Homemade Costumes for Little Boys

Now, when I say homemade... I mean little to no sewing is involved. I can't pull off the Cinderella dress or Dorothy from Wizard of Oz costume that my daughter has requested at different stages of her life. Those costumes get passed on to Grandma M, who actually can sew. Nor would a little boy (whom this post is addressing costumes for) want to be a princess... usually.

Buddy's last three Halloween costumes have been very simple and all him.

In 2006, he was a Boston Red Sox player. This is an outfit, that, when I bought it on ebay cost $14.99 (we already owned the hat). I bought it large (4T for a then 2 1/2 year old) and he still wears it, all the time. All the time. If it is clean and in his drawer, he'll chose it to wear that day. You can see from the picture it was shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. I bought what was new, cheapest and in his size on ebay. He wore sweatpants (which helped the too big of shorts stay up) and a long sleeved shirt under his costume.

In 2007 he wanted to be a UPS man. I saw the costume at different online Halloween stores for about $30 and figured I could create it for less. I shopped around until I found a brown three botton, short sleeved shirt (Old Navy clearance) and dark brown pants (Target). He already owned brown socks and brown Converse. I copied the UPS symbol online, reversed it and printed it on fabric iron-on paper. Then I ironed it on to a white fabric, sewed around the edge with gold thread, and used sticky Velcro dots to attach it to his pocket. I've since just sewed it onto the shirt. He still wears this shirt sometimes, just as a shirt with other pants. He felt he needed a hat. I couldn't find a good deal on a brown hat so we went without. Then with brown packing paper, I wrapped up an empty box. This was by far everyone's favorite costume everywhere we went that year.

In 2008 Buddy wanted to be a DHL man. I figured that costume was too hard to create (where was I going to find a half red, half yellow shirt?). Plus, UPS is just cooler. I talked him into being a mailperson and he warmed right up to the idea. His costume is a pale blue, three-buttoned, collared shirt (Old Navy) that he still wears to church some Sundays. You can't see the pants in this picture, but they are navy blue sweat pants (Old Navy) that I attached black, electrical tape to the side of to give them the dark stripe on the leg. The hat is his navy blue Red Sox hat. Then I had this black messenger bag laying around that I transformed into a mailperson bag, complete with fake mail inside. I copied the USPS symbol, reworked it to the sizes I wanted, printed them and then took them to Kinko's where I laminated them and added a clip (for the shirt badge). The other two badges are attached with safety pins.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Child Chef

Princess Sparkley told me the other day that she wished I was a real cook with a real cooking blog so I could teach her how to cook. I informed her that I could teach her how to cook, but that her age (7) hinders her ability to do a lot of the cooking related stuff that she's really wanting to do. For instance, I'm not going to let her climb on top of our stove to use our microwave (which she's witnessed a friend do).*

She's told us since she was a tiny little girl (where did that tiny little girl go??) that she wanted to be a baker when she grew up and that her little brother would be her baker's helper. But when it comes to actually spending time in the kitchen, Buddy has always stuck around for more of the baking process while PS loses interest, and, now that she can read, goes off and loses herself in a book.

I have an assortment of children's cookbooks from my own childhood. Buddy got her a fairy cookbook for her birthday. And equipped with a Barnes and Noble gift card from her aunt, she picked out a chilren's cookbook the other day. From it we made some yummy chocolate mint cookies.

When buying a children's cookbook, this is what I look for:
  • it must have pictures (preferred even over drawings)
  • a list (picture lists are awesome) of ingredients needed for the recipe
  • a list of kitchen pans and gadgets needed for the recipe
  • small recipes (cookie recipes that call for 1 1/2 cups of flour rather than 4)
  • no recipes that call for food kids should have (coffee granules, etc.)
That being said, I found this section on Family Fun's website today that I plan to explore further. And I have these children's cookbook recommendations for you:**

Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book

Usborne's Fairy Cooking

DK's The Baking Book (this is the version I checked out from the library, it looks like Amazon has newer versions)

Sweet Eats (the cover on mine is different)

DK's Mom and Me Cookbook (this is the one PS bought)

*Being that PS is my oldest, and she isn't easily neglected among the three kids being forced to fend for herself foodwise, when is she old enough to cook?? She makes toast and sandwiches. What else should I be letting her do?

**Check your library too. The nonfiction kid book section of your library should be well stocked with kid cookbooks. Mine is, and my library is lacking a lot.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I nearly forgot about these

Made Me Smile

In 1620, as the tenor of the comet debate turned nastier, the Holy Congregation of the Index raised the specter of the Edict of 1616 by announcing at last the necessary corrections that must be made to Copernicus's text, De revolutionibus, in order to have it removed from the Index of Prohibited Books. The congregation insisted on watering down some dozen statements by Copernicus affirming the Earth's motion, in order to make them sound more like hypothetical suggestions. Galileo dutifully penned the required changed into his own copy of De revolutionibus, though he took care to cross out the offending passages with very light strokes.

From Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. Chapter 8, pages 91-92.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Caramel Apple Cookies

One of the first things I ate when I got my braces off in high school was a caramel apple. I probably haven't had once since. But it was just the idea that for all those year I couldn't have one, and then finally I could.

Today I came across this cute recipe. Very appley. Very Fall. Very cute. I like it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sneaking Veggies

As I was walking through the store today I was hit by the realization that I can't remember the last time Baby X ate a vegetable.

My kids are all over the board as far as their eating habits. Buddy (5) loves fruits and vegetables and is a bit more hesitant with soups and casseroles. Princess Sparkley (7) hates all fruits except the occasional bites of banana or peeled apple slices. But she's much more willing to eat what we're having for dinner, casserole or whatever. Baby X (20 months) isn't a horrible eater, but he goes through phases. He went through a phase recently where basically all I could get him to eat was macaroni and cheese. And he loves chicken nuggets. BUT, he only likes them from an actual fast food restaurant, if I make them at home from a frozen grocery store box, he won't have anything to do with them. He likes hot dogs. And he likes deli ham. That's all the meat he'll eat too. Unless I'm eating a meatball sub sandwich, in which case he wants the entire thing.

Now that Baby X has graduated from baby food, I can't get him to eat veggies. My other kids are fine with veggies. Not salad. Buddy loves them all, including carrots, zucchini and tomatoes (I know, I know, tomatoes are a fruit). Both older kids will eat broccoli and green beans, corn and asparagust. Baby X won't eat it at all. Raw. Steamed. Squished. I actually put some baby food carrot puree in his macaroni and cheese a few weeks ago and that seemed to go over okay... that's actually probably the last veggie he had.

So today while I was at the store I came across Little Blends yogurt. Baby X LOVES yogurt. And this is yogurt with hidden veggies. The company is even smart enough to only picture the strawberry on the container, not the carrot. Brilliant. There were three varieties. It's a four pack of yogurts. Target was selling it for $2.99 which is a bit in the pricey range for me, but I was figuring a veggie treat every now and then for Baby X's health should require a splurge. And you can print a coupon from their website. Baby X loved it. I made PS take a bite and she whispered that it was okay but kind of gross.

I also picked up some of V8's new juice V8 fusion. I'm a little hesitant in regards to anything with V8 in it since my sister drank the regular V8 stuff like crazy when I was a kid, and the smell alone makes me want to vomit. We'll see...

What tricks do you use to sneak in the veggies, or fruits without going all black bean brownies, or zucchini chocolate cake on me? I'm not ready to attack Jerry Seinfeld's wife's book yet.

Fire Paranoia

image from here

I'm a bit paranoid about house fires. I don't want to say it's one of my biggest fears, because that just seems like tempting fate. So I'll just say I'm afraid. Very afraid.

This could all go back to about second grade when the school bus dropped me off and when I got home, Mom was nowhere. After a few minutes I discovered she was on the roof, (which at the time was wood shingles) watering it with a hose to protect it from dropping ash from a nearby wildfire.

Later I remember being able to see smoke from a few miles away from my house but knowing that right where there was smoke, was also my house. It turned out to be a house up the street from my parents' that caught on fire and burned to the ground because one of the owners was drying running shoes in the microwave... or that's the story that went around.

On a very very cold night in the winter of 2000 the duplex I was living in in Provo caught on fire. The girls next door knocked on our door to inform us that they had a fire in their fireplace and their chimney caught fire. Running through my mind was... what do I take, what do I take? I can't remember if I took anything. I had the flu and spent the next couple hours standing across the street from our home watching the firefighters spray water onto the chimney and roof. We were lucky, it only burnt part of the roof and the chimney on the other side. They had some smoke damage, but not a lot. Mainly all I suffered was a horrible flu and a really icy street once all the firehose run off froze. Hopefully a house fire never gets that close to me again.

When we were living with my parents in 2003, we could see the bright orange flames from a wildfire burning near my parents as we were leaving our church's trunk-or-treat party. Jed and I spent the next day not at church, but on the roof watering the still wood shingles. I packed important documents, photo albums, etc. in the back of our car. Like I said, I'm a bit paranoid. Some homes in a gated community near my parents burned down. So maybe I'm rightfull paranoid?

I called my dad the other night because when I logged on to check the news one of the stories was about a wildfire in California being started by cow manure spontaneously combusting. I thought the story was about a different, huge wildfire from a couple of weeks ago that was thought to be arson, but when I clicked on the article, I saw an all too familiar area on the map. The same area that has burnt near my parents' house three times in the past five years. My dad was calm and not worried. Later, when I saw that my parents' neighborhood was under voluntary evacuation I called home again. Dad was still calm. He said they weren't evacuating, the fire was no where near them. He was right, it didn't get closer than several miles away. AND, they had gotten a new roof in late 2004. No more wood shingles.

So I'm paranoid about fires and the last two places we've lived (in Kansas and now in Virginia), we live basically on the same street, or one street perpendicular, from the closest fire station. This is awesome for Buddy (and Baby X) because everytime a fire truck drives past they run to the window to see it and Baby X makes fire truck noises for the next ten minutes. This is not so awesome for me because I am of course imagining that it is my building on fire.

I have all of our important documents, copies of our family pictures (a cd of our family pictures at a secondary location), and other family memorabilia boxed up in a rubbermaid container that has since grown to two and then three boxes. The idea was that I could grab the box quickly. But two boxes quickly? Or three? Plus kids. I keep envisioning trying to get three kids and all of our stuff out of the house because of a fire and my brain freaks out. So I think I'll add one of these fire safe boxes to my Christmas list. Or two. Or three.

Letter to My Car

Dear Car,

If you want to stay a part of our family, you need to stop having problems and costing us money. Jed doesn't want a car to begin with, and your lemon-ness isn't helping the situation. Be a nice car. Make your brakes stop squeaking. Fix your own back windshield wiper so it works again. Tell your tires to stay nice.

Thank you.



Thursday, October 01, 2009


One thing Jed and I have noticed about Virginia is the driving. Everyone here stops six feet over the limit line. This is super annoying when you are trying to turn right onto a busy street, but the monster truck turning left is basically in the intersection completely blocking your view and making it so inching forward won't even help.

And people here honk all the time. It seems like Kansas was very honk free and California was light on honking. I've gotten honked at here for turning (even though I had my blinker (that's what us Californians call a turn signal, or at least my family) on at least 100 feet in advance). It's not my fault they were going too fast to slow down at my turning. I got honked at today as the light turned green. There was about 1 second worth of time when I could have been driving, but wasn't yet and the guy behind me felt the need to honk. Argh.

Do you honk? I am not really much of a honker. Usually I'm too busy waving my arm in the air in frustration and yelling out, "ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!" to mess with the horn.
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