"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, May 28, 2010

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 1

I blogged here, about how I'm slowly going to bake my way through a bunch of sugar cookie recipes until I find the greatest one. This may take awhile since I don't also want to put on 50 pounds. But without further ado, here's the first review.

Cookie 1: Blonde Designs's Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies found here.



Erin recommended this recipe (not having made it herself yet, but enjoying recipes from this source). I made them dog bone shaped for Buddy's 6th birthday party.


Thoughts on these cookies:

You need a GIANT glass of milk with these cookies, it was like eating peanut butter.

I don't think the frosting turned out well at all. I actually doctored the remaining frosting after this picture to make it more to my taste.

This wasn't my favorite cookie. I liked that they were sort of similar to those brightly frosted sugar cookies you can buy in the bakery section of Target, but they stuck to the roof of my mouth too much to receive a high rating.

Jed enjoyed the dough but described the cookies as "tasteless mush that sucked the water out of his mouth while providing no taste." I should mention that Jed is not usually a picky eater.

Princess Sparkley, Buddy, and Little Guy all ate their cookies with no comment, good or bad. A few weeks later, PS informed me that she didn't actually like the doggy bone cookies.



I feel bad judging these cookies. They were okay... just not my dream sugar cookie. Will I ever find them?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Enchilada Lasagna


Made this for dinner tonight and loved it!


Sorry, my mom just pointed out that this recipe is only visible to Taste of Home subscribers. I don't want to just copy and paste, so basically, this is my version of it.

1-1.5 lbs. ground beef cooked with onions and garlic (to your taste)
Add one 14.5 oz. can of chopped, stewed tomatoes and 10 oz. of enchilada sauce.
Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Mix 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese and one egg.

Have ready: Flour tortillas, 3 cups of shredded cheeses.

Layer in a 9x13 pan: meat, cheese, tortillas, cottage cheese, meat, cheese, tortillas, cottage cheese, meat, cheese. About three layers each.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350, remove cover and bake 10 more minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

Call for Potato Salad Recipes

I LOVE potato salad. But I've never been able to find a recipe I love for a classic potato salad, you know, the one you find at a summer potluck. If anyone out there in the great blogosphere has a potato salad recipe they love... please share it with me!! Thanks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Little Guy's Best Friend

Jed took the boys to a Father/Son Campout with a group from church over the weekend (don't worry, Princess Sparkley planned a thorough Girls' Night Out for us as well). This was Little Guy's first Father/Son Campout. Jed forgot the camera, but luckily, just about every cell phone has a camera these days. This is my favorite picture the boys brought back to us.


Apparently Little Guy and this giant dog hit it off. He immediately wanted to pet the dog and the dog was a sweetheart and let him, all night. I love this picture because it looks like they are sizing each other up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Busy Busy

We are busy around here.
  • We're on a wild job hunt for Jed now that his semester is over and he needs employment for the duration of our stay here in Virginia.
  • Our friends, half of whom belong here, are coming to stay with us when they come out for a wedding that involves hiking. For me, this involves a deep cleaning of our house. Having book club or a meeting at my place is one thing, but people using your bathtub... that requires a lot of the kind of cleaning I don't typically bother with. Sad and horrible, but true.
  • Sewing a sleeping bag for Princess Sparkley's knock-off American Girl doll (who now sports dreadlocks) so PS is cool with giving up her room for our friends and "camping" on her brothers' floor.
  • I have three baby blankets to make... all for girls.
  • I'm going to try to go to coupon group (some ladies from church that I plan to suck knowledge from) this week so I can start being a better deal getter.
  • I need to start the kids on summer school stuff before they get the idea the school is over and done with forever. We need to work on math (PS and Buddy), handwriting (PS and Buddy), spelling (PS), sight words (Buddy) and reading (Buddy).

Plus the ongoing to do list that never changes:
  • laundry to either wash or fold and put away
  • sewing Buddy's new comfort blanket
  • picking up messes, vacuuming, loading and unloading the dishwasher

Friday, May 21, 2010

Homeschool Blog Unveiled

I've started my homeschooling blog. But by started, I mean it is up, and there are two posts. So, it isn't really rolling yet, it's just . . . there. Feel free to check it out. In the future I plan on doing a bit of research on some of the different methods of homeschooling (so I can learn more) as well as posting a lot of our lessons, activities and projects.

Ice Cream Elementary School
Home of the Fighting Popsicles
our family's journey in homeschooling

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Growing Up



A friend is having twin girls that will probably be early, so we got out our* preemie outfits to mail to her. I can't believe Princess Sparkley was ever this small!! But then there is proof.



*Princess Sparkley wasn't actually a preemie. She was actually four days late but only weighed 5 lbs. 14 oz. and for the first couple weeks was drowning in regular newborn clothes, so we got her a few teeny outfits.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Card Games and Little Hands

We were playing Cars Uno the other night with the kids and I realized I had a problem. Not hands that were too little to hold cards, I'd already solved that:




Gamewright cardholder about $4 (online, or at Walmart, Target, etc.)*



But now I had an extra set of little hands, who, while not really "playing," thought he was.

As you can see, I solved it with a giant bag clip.

I've also seen them made out of old cds, old food
container lids, and I've heardof people making
them from concentrated orange juice can lids.


Little Guy just enjoyed being like one of the big kids.


Except when it was our turn to play a card and he didn't
want to part with Lightening McQueen or the Sheriff, or any of them.

*The card game picture is Wig Out. It's sort of a matching game. My kids think it is Hi-larious because of all the funny people.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Princess Sparkley Reads EVERYTHING

I've always known there was a point in my future where I'd want to get rid of some of the books* I own. You know, the books that, while not really bad, aren't books I want my daughter reading. Especially not as a seven year old. I didn't think I was too that point yet. I still have all of my Babysitter Club books boxed up because if I remember correctly, the babysitters were all a bit boy crazy, and the last thing I want is a boy crazy daughter. But lately, Princess Sparkley has been mentioning the titles of books she sees on our shelves that she thinks sound interesting, or she likes their covers. I don't want to find out in several years that she's read all of my chick lit, or whatever, as a little kid. And so the weeding out process begins...

*Mostly chick lit (my weakness) from Red Dress Ink,** but a few teen lit books too.

**Which, until I created the link for Red Dress Ink, I didn't know was part of Harlequin. Ick. I'm fairly certain it hasn't always been.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fear of Chips

I realized the other night while crunching on tortilla chips that I'm still a tiny bit nervous while eating chips because of braces I haven't had on my teeth in 15 ish years. Some of the nervousness could be from my crap fake tooth, but mostly I'm worried I'm going to break a bracket off. It's like a ghost limb.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grapefruit Spoon


from here

In order to understand how hard it is for my to by fruit at the grocery store, especially citrus, I need to paint a picture for you of how I grew up. My parents live (still) on two acres in southern California. The backyard is mostly avocado trees other than back porch, falling apart chicken coop, and an assortment of apple, plum and peach trees. The front yard is mainly landscaping, but there are still a handful of avocado trees, several orange trees, a peach tree, a grapefruit tree, a lemon tree, a lime tree and a tangerine tree.

As a kid, even as an adult, when dinner is in the oven and its salmon (which it typically is if my dad has his say) someone gets sent outside to pick a lemon. Having breakfast for dinner, or just feel like a nice glass of freshly squeezed orange juice? Just head down the driveway and pick some oranges. Having tacos or making a salad and want to add more to it? Go see if there are any avocados.

In the ten total years of my life that I haven't lived in California, I've probably bought eight avocados at the store. I just can't bring myself to pay the steep prices the store charges for something I grew up thinking was free.

The other day I bought a grapefruit because while at the store, Buddy asked me if it was a giant orange. We tried it the other night, and Princess Sparkley, who is anti-fruit, LOVED it. I've finally found a fruit that the girl likes, and it's the one that is super difficult to eat. Is there a way to enjoy a grapefruit that doesn't involve slicing it in half, and using a knife and a grapefruit spoon to cut out each bite?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cami Tanner and Miss Disney

When I was a little girl and played (usually at my best friend Vicki's) I was always either Cami Tanner a school teacher. Or I was Miss Disney, heir to Walt's fortune.

I was reminded of this the other day because my kids have been watching a dvd they checked out from the library about the behind the scenes building of Disneyland. They are now experts and are thoroughly disappointed when I can't answer their questions. I told my seven year old daughter about being Miss Disney in my childhood make-believe because I knew her crazy imagination would appreciate it.

But the funny story is that while an education major at BYU, I was actually paired with a girl named Cami Tanner to work on a project. I didn't know her well, but after working together I told her about how when I was a little girl I'd play I was a teacher named Cami Tanner. I think that girl thought I was nuts. Good thing there were other crazy people in my English-teaching program to welcome me in with all my craziness.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

18 Meals a Day

Does anyone else feel like all you do all day long is feed people? If I was actually a professional chef with nothing else to do all day, this wouldn't be such a big deal. My kids wake up and two of them need breakfast immediately, most mornings, or they'll die of starvation. The other usually wanders to the kitchen an hour before lunch finally hungry for breakfast. The two who had breakfast usually demand a second breakfast before lunch. Then there are the billion snacks, the biggest demands for food coming AS I'm trying to make dinner. Then dinner, followed by the insistence that "yes, we have desserts every night" even though I keep telling them that if they come to expect dessert, I'll stop letting them have it. Finally, one of them has come to believe there is something called a "nighttime snack" that involves not one, not two, but three or four snacks. It's about to drive me crazier than I already am.


Sidenote: I'm slowly copying all my recipes over to here, so they can be categorized for you (and me) as more than just food or recipe. I've got almost half of them moved so far.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekend To Do List Revised

T-ball game
National Train Day
Relief Society Board Meeting
Food for Relief Society Board Meeting
Research homeschool methods for homeschool blog*
Organize labels on this blog
Laundry
Sew baby blankets for certain people I know having babies
Sew Buddy's blanket
Go through cooking magazines, put yummy recipes in my recipe book
Go through pile of stuff by computer (Jed has moved this to our bed)
Go through pile of stuff by bed
Write up book reviews and ratings for here
Read The Help
Put recipes on jumpdrive to share at upcoming Relief Society food activity
End of year assessment tests for Princess Sparkley and Buddy
Finish reading/editing friend's book manuscript

The to do items in bold, are ALWAYS on my to do list.



What DID I do this weekend? I read a lot of The Help but won't finish it until tonight.

Saturday:
Woke up way too early.
Dropped off food for Relief Society Board Meeting
Went to Buddy's T-ball game
Took Jed to shuttle
Fed everyone lunch
Drove to Metro
Rode Metro to Union Station
Wandered through four LONG trains
Rode crowded Metro home
Ate Mac n Cheese and frozen pizzas for dinner (got home late)
Put kids in bed
Watched new episodes of 30 Rock and Bones on Hulu with Jed when he got home
Went to bed way too late

And Sunday is Sunday... does anything ever get done on Sunday?
Slept in
Got some kids bathed and ready
Just got the other kids ready
Fed everyone breakfast
Kids made Mother's Day cards
Put roast in crockpot
Fed everyone lunch
Got showered and ready
Church
Dinner
Open Mother's Day Cards and presents
Called Grandmas
Cookies
Family Night
Bed for kids
Read The Help
Went to bed too late


To add to to do list:
Job applications for Jed
Make Buddy a 6 year old well child check-up appointment
School for the kids today
Schedule picture appointment for Buddy's 6 year old picture
Buy more lemon yogurt to put off war between Buddy and PS

Saturday, May 08, 2010

To do

T-ball game
National Train Day
Relief Society Board Meeting
Food for Relief Society Board Meeting
Research homeschool methods for homeschool blog*
Organize labels on this blog
Laundry
Sew baby blankets for certain people I know having babies
Sew Buddy's blanket
Go through cooking magazines, put yummy recipes in my recipe book
Go through pile of stuff by computer
Go through pile of stuff by bed
Write up book reviews and ratings for here
Read The Help
Put recipes on jumpdrive to share at upcoming Relief Society food activity
End of year assessment tests for Princess Sparkley and Buddy
Finish reading/editing friend's book manuscript


The to do items in bold, are ALWAYS on my to do list.

*Is it horrible that I'm more interested in researching homeschool methods now that I'm starting a homeschooling blog, and not just due to the fact that I homeschool. I've always meant to read up on all the methods... now I just have ... a deadline.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Random Assortment

  • I saw a pregnant woman lighting up a cigarette yesterday. I'm pretty sure they found out smoking was bad -for you, your baby, and anyone who breaths your secondhand smoke - before this pregnant girl was born. No offense if you smoke, but I think that young people (anyone who started smoking after it was discovered to be bad for you) is stupid. And to be pregnant and smoke... there's nothing to say that doesn't involve worse name calling than stupid, so I'll leave it at that.
  • Princess Sparkley is currently mad at me (which in and of itself isn't news worthy). She's mad at me today because I was buying the food for a church meeting tomorrow morning, and she wanted me to be buying it for us to eat.
  • Little Guy is obsessed with Rush Hour Jr. He doesn't play it correctly, but he spends at least an hour (or more) a day (for the past 5 days) dumping all the cars off, and then trying to get them all to fit (which involves a little strategy).
  • I'm wishing again that I'd minored in graphic design. I want to design a cool blog banner icon thingy for this blog involving a fish writing in a fishbowl. And I want to design our homeschool mascot for our homeschool blog I'm working on.
  • Yesterday the kids watched a movie titled "Caring for your Hamster" that they checked out from the library. Jed has told them that when we go to New Hampshire (which PS likes to say as New Hamster as a joke) he'll get them a hamster. Luckily, a trip to New Hampshire is not on any future plans. The kids are pretty sure I'm wrong.
  • We've run out of planned curriculum for our school year. Basically I'm just building up the strength I need to administer their CAT tests, which someone recommended as a good test to give them, and is the California Achievement Test I had to take every year in elementary school in California. I can't administer two different tests to two different kids with a two year old running around by myself. So we're waiting for Jed's semester to end so he'll be around one afternoon to help out.
  • My parents have bought their plane tickets to visit us this summer for PS's baptism because she's turning EIGHT!! Yikes. I'm thrilled (about my parents visiting, not so much about my little girl growing up).
  • We were going to move this summer. We were going to move three months after we moved to Virginia. Then we resigned another short term lease. And now it's about up. But we still aren't finding any place we want to move (and can afford) and Jed's applying for jobs and we don't know where that will take us (still in metro DC), so we don't know where to move. So we're still here... for the time being.
  • The weather is absolutely beautiful today.
  • I'm no longer allowed to buy candy (my rule). I haven't banned the eating of candy since there's still a pretty large stash hidden in my kitchen. But unlike Jed's sometimes views, I don't think we should eat all the candy we own at once to get rid of it. I'm savoring every last bit.
  • I'm trying to make my blog more reader/user friendly - fixing up the sidebar, etc.
  • I'm trying to be more blog land involved*. I just added about 20 homeschooling blogs to my Google Reader, which is already full of food blogs, craft blogs, mom blogs, friend blogs, etc. I tracked down my password for Mormon Mommy Blogs. I'm trying to comment more on other people's blogs, not just read them in Reader. And once I figure out whose blogs I want to "follow" from my Google Reader, I'll start "following" more blogs too.
  • I'm looking forward to summer and no school. Except when you homeschool, everything the kid forgot over the summer is stuff you have to reteach. So the summer will still involve a little math and a lot of reading, very nearly daily. Bleh.
  • There was a spider on my leg last night, on the couch, while Jed and I were reading scriptures together. I kicked my leg wildly and jumped off the couch, but the spider was never seen again. I'm hoping it slammed into something hard and is dead. But I'm probably wrong, and so now I'm scared to sit on the couch.
*By "blog land involved," I mean commenting on more blogs, following more blogs, joining more blogging groups, maybe separating out my recipes and book reviews onto their own blogs... or maybe not.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Baby X's New Nickname

After much consideration, Baby X finally has a new nickname on my blog. Here were some of the contenders:

Heart
Hart
X
Toddler X
Tiger
Your Highness
Stinkpot
Grumpy
Grumpster
Guy


But I finally decided to go with Little Guy.

In real life, we really do call Buddy "Buddy" a lot. And I've noticed that to differentiate between Buddy and Baby X when just using the nickname like, "hey buddy," Jed has taken to calling Baby X Guy, as in "hey guy." The kids didn't want me to just call him Guy though, and I thought it might be confusing to people who are unfamiliar with us which one of our boys is Buddy and which one is Guy... so from now on, Baby X will be known, on the blog, as Little Guy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Book Report: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

A murder mystery with an 11 year old heroine whose passion is chemistry, more specifically poison, is a murder mystery I couldn't pass up.

Set in 1950 England, Flavia de Luce lives with her older sisters (who she tortures as much as they torture her), a distant father, and a not-all-there gardener. When Flavia trips over a body in the garden, and he breathes his last breath into her face, she thinks it one of the most exciting things to happen in her life. Her father quickly becomes the inspector's prime suspect, and Flavia sets out to discover what happened (not knowing whether her father will turn out innocent or not). Her investigation relies heavily on Gladys, her mother's old bike and several trips into town, the library, her father's old boarding school, she even inspects the corpse's hotel room. Flavia manages to learn a lot (sometimes more than the inspector has learned), and while the mystery itself is rather easy to figure out, the reader is still excited to see what Flavia's next adventure will be. And according to the author's bio page, this is just the first we'll see of Flavia de Luce... a character I definitely want to read more about.

Language: There were probably about two dozen instances of the d- word, but nothing worse.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Negativity

My husband is always convinced that someone (or everyone) hates him. This makes it difficult to know if he's really reading people correctly, or just being negative and convincing himself of other people's dislike for him. I could list of some of our closest friends and he would be able to convince me that they probably hate him. I can list off names of complete strangers from church, and he'd be able, with information to back up his claims, to come up with some reason they hate him. It's almost a talent he has. It's gotten to the point that he has me really convinced that friends, strangers, acquaintances, family members, etc. feel a strong dislike for him, but when it really comes down to it, they don't. I don't think...

Monday, May 03, 2010

=w=eezer


Another concert to add to my concert list.
This is from Jed's camera phone, see better pictures here.

Friday night Jed and I celebrated our anniversary by hiring a babysitter and taking the Metro to College Park, MD where we saw Ben Folds and (my favorite band) Weezer perform.

The fans were super obnoxious. I'm not even sure a lot of them could be called fans because they were college students using it as an excuse to be drunk in public. (Non-students had to pay $40 while students paid $5... they should have separated us somehow so we didn't have to mingle with people who weren't really there for the show). We almost got puke on us. The kids behind us kept trying to secretly smoke hoping security wouldn't spot them. And they were all so ugly. The guys were dressed like slobs with hair that hasn't been cut and the girls were all wearing the latest fashions, but looked ridiculous. Oh, and everybody texted and took pictures the whole time. And they all had to yell loud hellos to anyone they sort of knew so that the people they were with knew they knew a lot of people. Maybe we're just getting old, but I'm pretty sure all of this would have bugged me ten years ago too.

Ben Folds was the only opening act we saw. He's a talented guy, but I am not familiar with any of his solo work and it just sounded like REALLY loud piano chords. And he swore... a lot. All the college kids around us hated him and complained LOUDLY.

Weezer was awesome, as always. It was nice that the concert was not promoting any specific cd, so they played a bunch of songs from all of their albums. I was surprised that the crowd really knew their songs. Most of the college students were in elementary school when the Blue album and Pinkerton came out, but they knew those songs as well as the more recent albums. Rivers Cuomo is hilarious and donned a long, blond wig for part of the show to be Lady Gaga. A lot of other band members sang instead of just Rivers, which is also true of the most recent two albums, but they sang old songs that were originally Rivers's. Pretty fun. Plus it's always a bit thrilling to be singing as loud as you can and not be able to hear yourself. And thanks to lots of long car trips with my BFF Angela, I knew all the words to all the songs from the first two albums. And because my kids enjoy Weezer as well, I know most of the words to the songs from later albums. Plus the really obnoxious kids behind us left before it even ended... see, not true fans.

For those of you who are actually Weezer fans... here's their set list:
  1. Hash Pipe
  2. Troublemaker
  3. Undone (The Sweater Song)
  4. Surf Wax America
  5. Let It All Hang Out
  6. Perfect Situation
  7. Dope Nose
  8. Say It Ain't So
  9. Can't Stop Partying
  10. Why Bother?
  11. (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
  12. My Name Is Jonas
  13. Beverly Hills
Encore:
  1. Pork and Beans
  2. Kids (MGMT cover)
Encore 2:
  1. Island in the Sun
  2. Buddy Holly

If you are a new reader who didn't post your concert list when I posted mine, please comment with your list now.


Read Jed's review here.
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