"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, March 31, 2010

April Fools!

My brother was the king of April Fool's jokes when I was growing up, luckily I was never a target. He liked filling classrooms with cups full of water, saran wrapping the toilet during sleepovers, etc. My favorite April Fool's joke I've heard lately is this: someone drove around with an empty Starbuck's cup of coffee taped to their car roof, and when someone honked or tried to tell them, they held up a sign that said "April Fools." Please, someone do that tomorrow and tell me about it.

Last year the kids became thoroughly enamored with the idea of tricking their dad. We ended up playing our April Fool's jokes two days late because by the time they informed me how excited about April Fool's Day they were, it was midway through the day and we had no plan. Then we came up with this for dinner:


Gelled Juice
This is what cracks the kids up most. I think I might trick them with gelled juice this year.


Cupcake (really meatloaf topped with mashed potatoes)
note: this is the tastiest meatloaf I've ever had.


Sushi

Do you play April Fool's jokes?

I think this year I'll try this and maybe this. Check out more here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Skipping School

It is days like yesterday and today that I hope no one asks me if my kids have already done school for the day as we're out and about around town. From other homeschool parents, I've heard stories of complete strangers finding out their kids are homeschooled and asking whether they are done with their lessons for the day. Crazy.

Anyway, this week is not the week to ask me that question and leave feeling good about me as a homeschooler. In one sense. In another, we've been doing very educational, but non-traditional things.

Yesterday I was at the store shopping for my weekly menu items when I realized that I hadn't even thought of doing school yet that morning (I'm telling you, our spring break did me in). BUT... I was busily trying to put together a Passover meal for us because Jed likes to celebrate Passover, and it's a great Family Home Evening, hands-on church lesson, for the kids. And I was too busy Saturday at the Cherry Blossom Festival to grocery shop then.


Today we spent in Baltimore at the National Aquarium with my good friend and former roommate, Kate. Princess Sparkley talked her ear off. Buddy told me later he liked Kate, but when I asked if he ever talked to her, he wasn't sure. Baby X gave her furious squinting looks throughout the day and only spoke to her when she was too far away to hear "bye bye Kate." As soon as we got home, the kids began their own dolphin show with PS as the dolphin trainer and Buddy as the dolphin. Those kids have imagination... see, worthwhile. Imagination. Educational. The only question they didn't get answered was this: Do sharks eat stingrays?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cherry Blossom Festival

I know you are all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to see how my cherry blossom project turned out. The wait is over:


Princess Sparkley modeling her new bubble skirt and cherry blossom t-shirt for us.

It was touch and go with the skirt. I ended up finishing it and it being WAY TOO LONG. So I ended up taking it apart, and taking 4 inches of the interior (which I haven't even gotten a picture of yet) and exterior fabrics, and then resewing it. Craziness. And it ended up being a cold day, so she had to wear a sweater and leggings. The t-shirt has a brown felt tree, and pink flower shaped buttons as the blossoms. Click to zoom in.

Some other great pictures from the day:


I love all the kites around the Washington Monument (it was the Kite Festival today as well as the beginning of the Cherry Blossom Festival).


See the reflection... it's almost like I'm a professional. Almost.


And this beautiful framing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cherry Blossom Project

Why do I do this to myself? I still have Buddy's blanket to make that I've been promising him forever, but it involves cutting a lot of fabric into little squares and the sewing them together. Neither of those things do I enjoy, nor do well. That's just the biggest project on my unfinished project list, there are many, many more. Yet here I am, tackling another project.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival starts in Washington, DC this weekend. A couple weeks ago in a gift shop in DC we saw the 2010 festival t-shirts. I loved the artwork. Princess Sparkley wanted one. I wanted one. As I was looking into the different events of the festival I kept catching glimpses of the wonderful cherry blossom art and decided instead of spending $15+ for a t-shirt that will fit Princess Sparkley like a pillowcase, I should create one. I'm afraid I've been reading the blogs of too many crafty people.

I looked around online and at Etsy for ideas and then the kids and I made a trek to Joann's trying to find what I needed to create what I had pictured in my mind. At first it was just going to be a tree branch and blossoms added to a t-shirt PS already owns. Something like this.



But then I found this fabric.

At first I thought I'd use these flowers on a tree branch, but wasn't sure how I'd do that, and was not very confident in my sewing nicely around anything small skillz. But I loved this fabric, and continued to carry it around in the shopping cart finally having the brilliant (yet questionable) idea to make a skirt out of it to go with a shirt.

So, following this tutorial for a bubble skirt, I'm going to attempt it. But first I have to trek back to Joann's for some brown fabric for the interior of the bubble skirt. Unfortunately, I often find myself at the fabric store, not knowing what pattern I'm going to follow, until I'm there and am then left guessing as to how much fabric to buy. I overbought the flower fabric, and I didn't take into account the need for a secondary fabric. Does anyone else have this problem?

National Train Day


National Train Day


For any of you with a train enthusiast in your home (mine is almost 6, with his little brother becoming more and more obsessed with trains every day), National Train Day is May 8. Here's the link to reserve tickets to the FREE event in a city near you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birthday Party



I'm busy planning a Dog Party for Buddy's upcoming 6th birthday. I first saw it featured here and then followed the link to the idea originator here. When I first saw the party idea, I was so disappointed that Baby X had just turned two in January and it would be almost another year until I could plan this party, then I remembered how much Buddy LOVES dogs and asked him what he thought of the idea. He loved it. We picked up the pinata today at Party City and he's already named it Root Beer and is trying to convince me not to fill it with candy and let anyone hit it with a bat. We'll see...

Any local friends have paw print or dog print stamps I could borrow?? Or a new dog dish you've never used? :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memory

I have a horrible memory. Jed has a fabulous memory. It seems as though my kids have all inherited Jed's amazing memory because they keep mentioning stuff that happened when they were two or three. I can't remember being two or three. Now I realize, when they were two and three is much more recent than one I was two or three, but I can barely remember twelve, or sixteen or twenty or twenty-five... I'll stop there. You get the point.

I read Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy a few years ago, and enjoyed it, so this week I started the sequel She Got Up Off the Couch. I am amazed by Kimmel's memory of her childhood. She remembers so much, and in so much detail.* And I've read other books recently that have amazed me with the detailed fictional childhood memories. I realize they were fictionalized, but even having been a kid once, and currently having three in my home, I don't think I could believably create such vivid pictures of what it's like to be a kid or a teenager. It's a skill I need to work on, not just to enliven my own childhood stories, (which would total about ten pages of what little I remember) but also if I really want to write for real.

*Jed and I discussed this because of the controversy around James Frey's A Million Little Pieces where he fictionalized too much of his memoir. I'm sure writers have to use some liberties in describing their childhood memories, and take some liberties in moving events together or completely leaving out the boring stuff, but how much is true and how much is improved truth??

Friday, March 19, 2010

Without Homeschooling

Jed is the huge push behind homeschooling in our family. He feels very strongly about it. I would be okay with sending my kids to public school and I'm okay with homeschooling them. These feelings fluctuate from day to day, but that's the average.

Every once in awhile either Jed or I have a panic day where we think we're ruining our kids lives. Or they need something a public school can offer that we can't. Or the kids are just being difficult. And Jed says something along the lines of, "we should just send them to school."

My reaction to this goes both ways. First, I begin to think how easy that would be. Then I panic about how I'd react to sending them to school. And how they'd react (PS would love it, Buddy... I think would be too nervous at his current age and disposition). Then I start worrying about what they'd learn at school that I don't want them to learn. Or what they won't learn that they should. It goes on and on. I can worry about public school just as much as I worry about homeschooling.

The biggest thing to hit me is what I would do with my day if I had the two big kids gone all day. I begin by thinking about how much I'd get done with my day, how organized I'd be, how I'd have time to write. And I dream about grocery trips with only one kid in tow. But it doesn't take me long to realize that I'd probably just treat it like a vacation and sit around in my PJs reading entire books in one sitting while Baby X watched Elmo's World, Leap Frog Letter Factory, and Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat.

And since that doesn't seem so healthy, we should probably keep homeschooling for now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cute Place Tags


from Better Homes and Gardens

Isn't this idea cute? It's white chocolate covered peanut butter cups, with a tiny icing flower (which can be bought ready made for those of us who are cake decorating impaired). Or another cute cake decoration candy could be used as well. And a tiny little toothpick flag with a name on it. I'm loving it. Maybe for a little girl tea party.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cake Decorating

Anyone who has wandered onto my blog should be able to figure out in just a few minutes that I love making desserts. I've been thinking lately that I should learn how to decorate a cake. I don't love cake like I love other desserts, but I can appreciate a beautifully decorated cake and can see that it would be handy to do more than spread crumb-filled frosting over top a 9x13 pan of cake. Does anyone else know how to decorate cakes? Do you find this knowledge worthwhile?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Easter Sugar Cookies



I LOVE sugar cookies, but I don't have the patience or talent to roll out all the dough, get out the cookie cutters, transfer them nicely to the baking sheet, and then frost them beautifully. That being said, I still think that this Easter cookie set (Stamp and Style Easter Cookie Cutters) from Williams-Sonoma is so cool!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Ides of March!

And the next holiday... St. Patrick's Day. I have no Irish heritage (although my mom's finding that maybe we do as she uncovers more family history) but Jed's family does. His mom makes cabbage and corned beef for St. Paddy's Day. I'm not such a fan of corned beef, so I'm thinking we'll have to come up with some other Irish food... like baked potatoes. See, I'm keeping with the Irishness of the holiday... sort of.

While I'm busily catching up after basically a week and a half of Spring Break with no homeschool happening, take a look at all these great St. Patrick's Day crafts and foods:

at Make and Takes

at The Crafty Crow

at Family Fun

from my own archive

at Tangled and True

at Rookie Cookie green pancakes

at CakeSpy

at Make It Do

at Baking Bites

And consider reading something by Irish writers, Cecelia Ahern*, Maeve Binchy**, James Joyce***, Bram Stoker****, or Oscar Wilde*****.

*I haven't read her newest book, but I've enjoyed all the ones I've read.
**I've only read The Glass Lake, but enjoyed it.
***I don't think I've ever read anything by James Joyce, but I should.
****My book club in Kansas read Dracula and I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed it.
*****I've never read anything by Oscar Wilde (that I can remember), but I greatly enjoyed seeing the plays of The Importance of Being Ernest and An Ideal Husband.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baby X and Weezer

Wendy asked for a review of Weezer's new Raditude cd. I was first introduced to Weezer in 1997, my freshman year at BYU and only knew about their 2nd cd released in 1996, Pinkerton, at the time. I loved it. Then I bought the blue album (their first album, released in 1994) and I liked it a lot. I couldn't wait for them to release a new cd and I was mad that they were taking so long. And then they released a bunch seemingly right in a row (the green album in 2001, Maladroit in 2002, Make Believe in 2005, the red album in 2008, Raditude in 2009) and I was overwhelmed. I love all of their cds... but I haven't always fallen instantly in love with them. The red album took me awhile, but it's still the one I'm listening to the most. Plus the kids love it. I tend to love the cd more once I've heard it a lot and the songs are more familiar to me. We listened to the red album a few times on a long road trip after it came out, and by the end of the road trip, I no longer hated it, which I kind of did the first time through. As for their newest release, Raditude, I like about half of the songs a lot, so far. Once I've listened to the whole album lots and lots, I'll probably love it too. The red album seemed way different to me (for the most part) compared to other Weezer cds. Raditude seems like it's a mix of the old and the new and right now, what I'm liking is the old school Weezer sounds I hear in it.

Here's how Baby X feels about Weezer's Raditude cd, specifically, (If You're Wondering If I Want You To), I Want You To:


This is how he dances in his car seat.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Philly



We spent part of "the holidays"* in Philadelphia. Here is our to do list** with our "done" crossed out:

Liberty Bell
Independence Hall
Constitution Center
Betsy Ross House
Rocky Statue @ the Philadelphia Art Museum
Franklin Institute
Reading Terminal
Geno's or Pat's (famous cheese steaks)#
Please Touch Museum
Free Library of Philadelphia#
LOVE statue
Rita's Water Ice
Benjamin Franklin Museum
Carpenter's Hall
First Bank of the United States#
Second Bank of the United States#
Portrait Gallery inside the Second Bank of the United States
Benjamin Franklin's Grave
Declaration House#

Outside of Philadelphia:
Amish country
Washington Crossing State Park
Princeton#
the New Jersey State House#
Washington in prayer statue at the Freedom Foundation (near Valley Forge)
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Hershey Chocolate World
Gettysburg (I've been before, but Jed hasn't)

Even Further:
New York City!!!
Statue of Liberty
Atlantic City, NJ
the Atlantic Ocean



*Gob, on Arrested Development, calls Spring Break "the holidays."
**These are the things we want to do in Philadelphia... we knew it couldn't all be squeezed into this trip. And I've probably left something off that Jed will have to remind me of.

#indicates we only saw the outside of this.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Wish List

I'm a list maker. As a list maker, besides all of the other crazy lists I make, I'm especially great at coming up with wish list for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Here's my wish list for Easter, Mother's Day and my upcoming 29th birthday:

  • running shoes
  • a new kitchen trash can
  • a large frying pan
  • a Weezer ringtone
  • Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy
  • an easy accent decorator type tool (Wilton's version is at Michael's)
  • high quality spatulas here or here and here
  • new digital camera
  • dinner and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory
  • Virginia or Washington DC spoon for my spoon collection
  • cool new trainers ("About A Boy" speak for nice walking about town shoes)
  • Khaki cargo capris
  • Bones season 4 dvd boxed set
  • Alias season 3 dvd boxed set
  • Cake decorating tools

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Brownie or Cake Your Kids Can Make



I first saw these in the store and thought, "huh." Then I read about it here*probably more than a year ago, and she loved them. I didn't try them until last week because I always wonder about them, but think, "If I'm going to make brownies, I might as well make a whole pan." But last week I had a coupon for them, and they were on sale. Jed and I shared the peanut butter fudge brownie. Yum. And I thought, "PS and Buddy would love this... making their own dessert and then eating it." So, I bought the smaller sized ones for Princess Sparkley and Buddy to make. They loved it. Afterward, Buddy told me, he thought they could make this entire dessert without my help except the water part. I thought the hard part would be not falling on to the stove while trying to reach the microwave, but apparently for him, it was carrying a tablespoon, and then a teaspoon of water over to his bowl without spilling it from his shaky little hand.


*I can't link you to the exact post because Blogger's blog search function no longer finds ANYTHING. AHH. But that's a rant for another post.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Jed's Favorite Foods

I try to plan out my weekly menu to save money, to cut down on trips to the grocery store, and because I hate when 4 PM hits and I have to frantically decide what to feed my family for dinner.

On those days when 4 PM does hit, and I ask Jed what he wants for dinner, hoping he'll either say, "let's eat out" or he'll give me an easy suggestion involving food I have on hand. Usually he says something like, "I don't care, whatever. But I'm starving, so make a lot of it." More pressure.

This is the email response I got last time I asked him what sounded good for dinner:

The standard items.

1. Meatball subs
2. Pizza
3. Chili dogs
4. Velveeta shells and cheese
5. Pecan pie
6. Ginger ale
7. Breaded fish fillets
8. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate and peanut butter melted atop
9. Some combination of the above

Also, I didn't have lunch today, so there should be a lot of whatever combination you go with.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sickie

I typically only go to the doctor for pregnancies. In the past nine years (since I've been married), I've been to the doctor five times for non-pregnancy related reasons. Two have been in the past month for strep.

Doctors Visits:
1. Weird white bumps on my throat. Prognosis, my body fighting a virus. (I researched this later and it turns out I have tonsil stones.  Gross.)
2. Knee pain and a slight limp (arthritis, especially in the knee runs in my family so I was showing precaution).
Prognosis: Nothing wrong.
3. Earache and cold. Prognosis: double ear infection and sinus infection.
4. Sore throat. Prognosis: Strep throat with a scarlatina rash.
5. Sore throat. Prognosis: Strep again, a month later. Argh. At least no rash this time.


I can't even remember if I ever had strep as a kid. I remember having that giant Q-tip swab in my throat and I remember yummy pink amoxicillin, but I don't actually remember if I ever had strep or not. I can't remember ever having an ear infection as a kid either. But after that double ear infection I got about 6 years ago, every time I got a cold I could feel it in my ears. Now that has stopped, and apparently, if I'm sick, I've got strep. Fabulous. I need to buy stock in toothpaste and tooth brushes since I keep having to replace the entire family's. And when I'm highly contagious and caring for three kids, how do I keep them from all getting it again!?!

On a separate note, strep throat could be used as a diet. For the first two or so days I can only eat freezing cold liquids. Then my tongue becomes sensitive and I can manage other foods, but still it's still slightly painful and uncomfortable. One day I only ate smoothies and ice cream. And a fried egg for dinner after using my numbing throat medicine, but followed by another bowl of ice cream. So maybe all the ice cream disqualifies it as a healthy diet, but being that it was the only food I got all day, not too shabby of a diet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lingerie Poll Results

Here are the results from my Lingerie Poll.


28% said: Yes, a definite must.
61% said: Sometimes, if the mood is right.
9% said: Never ever.


Interesting, thanks for participating and feeding my curiosity.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Books vs. the Movies Made From Them


I actually watched a movie tonight that I think was better than the book it was based on. In my younger years, I would have claimed that no movie is ever as good as its book. I've come to appreciate the art of movie making, and have allowed myself to see that it doesn't always hurt the story to change it.

The movie I watched tonight was My Sister's Keeper based on the novel of the same title by Jodi Picoult. The movie was still the same story, the same characters (for the most part) and I still cried just as much, but what they left out, and what they changed, made it into a story I enjoyed much more. A lot of that had to do with the ending of the book, which was just... horrible. But I remember when I read the book, Picoult* even said something along the lines of her son having read the book and not speaking to her for a week** because of how it ended, and she just told him basically, that's how it wrote itself. So I can't be mad at Picoult for the book ending the way it did, but I can be very thrilled with the movie people who changed it. And they didn't even make it a happy ending, just a more believable one, I thought.

Also, while I'm talking about books and movies... I enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife movie as well, and I especially enjoyed the special feature where they talked about how they took the book, and made it into a screenplay... very interesting.

* Plus she hates the idea of the movie changing the ending according to this. But she says here that she did enjoy the movie.
**I believe this is in the the reader's guide in the book.
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