"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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a Miracle!

I've finally finished Buddy's blanket. And it was actually rather simple and very quick. I got out all the fabrics (8 of them) that he picked out and ironed them last night. I was planning on doing a rag quilt with 5 inch squares but was terrified of actually cutting out all those 5 inch squares and lining them all up right to make it look good. Then I had the brilliant idea (thanks to Etsy) to do strips instead. (This helped too.) So I cut each half yard into 6 inch by 41 inch strips and had Buddy help decide how we'd put them all together. I didn't know if the front and back should be identical, or if we should create basically two different quilts. He ended up liking the layout where all the orange fabrics were on one side. And I eliminated one fabric that was more babyish and knocked the Nascar fabric down to only one stripe. I'm sneaky like that. Here's the final product!

The orange side is the frayed side, so I guess the front. I really like how it turned out.

The back.

Folded in half so you can see both sides at once.

Zoom in on the one corner. I eliminated one row of the Nascar fabric (because I didn't really like it, and didn't think it matched well) and added a row of street sign fabric (that I only had a little bit of) and a rectangle of scraps from Little Guy's blankey fabric (since what started this whole mess was Little Guy stealing Buddy's tiny blankey I made to replace the burp cloths that had always been his blankeys). And the white fabric with little cars on it next to the navy blue and white stripe, is some of the tiny scraps I have leftover from Buddy's original blankeys, two burp cloths I sewed for newborn Buddy. He still has those burp cloths, they are in his bed or under his bed or scrunched down in the toes of his bed, they just aren't AS important as they once were.

Happy Buddy!

And one more thing crossed off my New Year's Resolution list.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where'd Summer Go?

It's almost August. When did it become almost August!?! And, as a homeschooling family, we actually finished school earlier than the regular school kids here. We'll go back* in August, rather than after Labor Day which is what the rest of Virginia does. But still... the stores are filled with back to school supplies. And I'm dreading this - the mapping out of last years school plan.

*And by "go back" I mean, start up our regular homeschool routine again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

June Bug on the Rocks

Jed was recently flipping through our free Better Homes and Gardens magazine when he came across this yummy recipe. See his review here.

New Dream Pets

Our family has always talked about Someday when we have a dog. The kids keep trying to push it sooner. It's still not happening soon. They try to talk us into fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, bunnies, cats, etc. Not happening. But we all do have our favorite future pet. And some of them have changed, so if I've listed it here before, which is totally possible, this list is new and updated!

Princess Sparkley wants a Goldendoodle. This is a mix between a poodle and a golden retriever. She used to want a Teacup Poodle.

Buddy wants a Puggle, seen here. It's a mix between a Pug and a Beagle.

Little Guy just likes dogs and cats in general. As a baby, just learning how to walk, he tried to follow a giant dog around when I took him to book club with me. But now I think he'd be more a fan of smaller dogs... as long as they are calm, but in my experience, smaller dogs are never calm.

Jed still wants a Beagle.

I'm not sure about me. I always wanted a Chocolate Lab, but my parents have had one now for a few years so that sort of fulfilled that need. What other cute dogs are out there? I sort of like West Highland Terriers, like McDuff, but they get all gooey around their face if you don't take them to the spa every other day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Party Planning

Princess Sparkley currently has flyers stuck to the walls all over our house advertising for her party planning business: [Princess Sparkley] Party Co. Some of the flyers even have tear off phone numbers at the bottom (where does she learn this stuff!?!). All of this because her birthday is next month. Technically, her birthday is in 20 days.

She turns eight this year, which, in our religion, means she gets baptized. This meant a nice calm, family only, birthday celebration. Especially after last year's! But there was a catch in the plan. It's going to make my parents sound bad, but it really isn't a big deal. In case you are a new reader, my dad is a HUGE Red Sox fan. And while we don't live in Boston, we do live close-ish to Baltimore and the Red Sox are playing the Orioles at the end of August/beginning of September. PS's birthday is early August. We pulled some strings with PS to ensure what she'd be okay with having her baptism a couple weeks later so that Grandma and Grandpa would be in town to see the Red Sox play. And of course, take us along to the game. This is sort of becoming tradition. They came out to visit us in Kansas in August of 2006 for PS's 4th birthday and took us to a Royals game on her birthday night. (After her party, of course.)

The strings we had to pull with PS. She still wanted to be baptized in her birth month... so her baptism will be one of the last days of August. And, foolish woman that I am, I promised her some sort of "small" celebration with a "few" friends on her actual birthday (or thereabouts).

First is was going to be a Fancy Tea Party. Then a Fairy Tea Party. This has now been transformed to a Fairy Garden Party (so I don't have to try to track down a fancy tea set). We've planned out the menu of tiny foods. The guest list is a little weak. She only knows a couple girls in town and I'm not sure if boys would be cool with a Fairy Garden Party or not. Buddy has been invited and he's excited, but I can also see him getting a little bashful when all the girls show up.

I'll be sure to let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art Cookie

This would have been great for Princess Sparkley's Art Birthday Party I threw several years ago.

Simply bake a square or rectangular cookie (a blank canvas), squeeze a drop of food coloring on the cookie and have children lightly blow the food coloring around with a straw. So fun!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baby Shower Idea

I'll start this post by announcing that I am NOT pregnant. I was just reading on a friend's blog about a baby shower her friends threw for her. She's having her fourth boy and I'm sure her little boy clothes stash needs replenishing at this point. Every time I pull out the next size of clothes for Little Guy I wonder why I saved all of Buddy's old pants because they ALL have holes in the knees.

Anyway, while I was reading her post I had this thought... baby showers for 3rd, 4th, etc. kids should also include the option of giving a freezer meal as a gift rather than a real gift. I would love to receive a bunch of dinners to stock my freezer with when that new baby arrives taking up all my time.

Once again, I'm not pregnant. I've just always felt averse to having a baby shower with each baby. I'm not sure why.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I decided to stop buying candy several months ago. For a candy addict, this hasn't been easy. I've done really well though. I kept dropping hints to my husband and kids that THEY should buy me candy (for my birthday last month, etc.) but they just ignored me.

This doesn't mean I haven't eaten any candy. I had some stock piled away. I just wasn't buying any new candy. AND I still have a giant bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs hidden around here somewhere. Mainly this not buying or eating a lot of candy has worked out because it is now summer time, a billion degrees outside, and officially ice cream season at our house. Instead of buying candy, I'm stocking our freezer full of all our favorite ice cream flavors.

But I gave in and bought some candy the other day. What candy broke my resolve??

A new M&M, of course. I had to try the new Pretzel M&Ms. And while I was at it, I bought some Peanut Butter M&Ms because I can't resist a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms. It practically jumped off the shelf into my cart at Target.

Review: The new Pretzel M&M is really yummy. Not as yummy as a Peanut Butter M&M, but very little is, in my opinion. Plus, the Pretzel M&Ms are a little healthier. I'm going to categorize this as a healthy candy. Sort of like chocolate covered raisins, another healthy candy. Just like oatmeal raisin cookies make a fabulous breakfast. Wink.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Report: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

I enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. Her other adult novel, The Last Summer (of You and Me) had a little too much detailed sex for me to comfortably suggest it to anyone. But, sex aside, it was an alright book. When I saw she has a new book, I picked it up at the library.

This book has an interesting idea, but I really didn't think I would be able to get into it enough to finish it before it was due back at the library. I ended up finishing it Monday and it isn't due back until Thursday. And that's with not reading it at all on Sunday. It only took me a few days to read which means I guess I got involved with the story.

The premise of the story is a man named Daniel who can remember all of his reincarnated lives dating back to his first life in North Africa in AD 541. In all of his lives, he is in love with, and searching for Sophia. But Sophia doesn't have a memory like his. She forgets each life, meaning, she forgets him.

The story skips around giving us bits and pieces of Daniel's past lives, sometimes interwoven with Sophia's, other times, not. These parts are nice, but the real story is in modern day Virginia where Sophia, now Lucy, feels a strange attraction for a boy at her high school she hardly knows, Daniel. They have a shared moment where he, with thousands of years of pent up love for her, scares her away with his feelings and his desire for her to remember him from their past lives. Fearing he's ruined it all, he disappears from her life but that's when she starts remembering.

Eventually, they find each other again (it is a love story after all), but there is of course a villain, a man named Joaquim who in Daniel's previous lives has been a brother to Daniel, and once, an abusive husband to Sophia. Joaquim will do anything to keep Sophia from Daniel.

The ending to the book was thoroughly disappointing. I've snooped around online, and there are hints that this book is the first in a trilogy. I suppose that the ending is more justifiable if that is the case. But sometimes, I just wish the story had a happy ending that was an ending, not a set-up for future books.

Warnings: There is bad language, probably a dozen uses of the F-word, the rest of the language is more mild. There are some sex scenes that I would classify as moderately descriptive.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Duel Nightstands

I made a trip to the library and my "to read" stack grew. Although, some of these are reference books that I will definitely not be reading, just browsing through. Compare this stack to Jed's:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Movie Theater

If any of you have paid attention to my sidebar, you'll notice that I just updated the "Last Movie I Saw in the Theater" picture. It had been Twilight that I saw on opening night, November 21, 2008 with a group of friends in Lawrence, KS. One year and eight months later I replaced it with Eclipse, which I saw tonight, not opening night, with a different group of friends here in Virginia. I can count on one hand the movies I've seen in a movie theater since 2005.

1. Eclipse
2. Twilight
3. Cars
4. The Work and the Glory II: American Zion
*5. Toy Story III

I'm seriously tempted to see Toy Story 3 and the upcoming Ramona and Beezus movie. We'll see what happens.

You see, the thing is, in high school, most of my friends worked at our local movie theater and as long as we bought something from the concession stand, they were allowed to let us in for free. So having to actually PAY for a movie, especially when the price has gone up $3 each time I go, I just can't bring myself to do it all that often. Especially when I'm perfectly fine watching movies in the comfort of my own home. Seeing it in the theater is just a "I can't wait to see this!!" or a fun excuse for a Girls Night Out.

*added on Toy Story III, 9/2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 3

Mr. Cookie Baker found here.
Originally I blogged about it here.
This is a great children's book, and the recipe for sugar cookies at the end is fantastic.

Mr. Baker's Cookie Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour (divided)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP milk

Mix together 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make the dough stiff enough to roll into a ball. Chill at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until nicely browned.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Thoughts on these cookies:

I love these. The dough wasn't especially yummy, but we're here to eat cookies, not dough. Right? They were soft, but had enough crispness that they didn't fall apart.
I'm actually getting decent at rolling out cookie dough and cutting shapes so they turned out nicely. I did this batch in star shapes, flowers (that I called fireworks) and an outline of the United States and we made them into mini patriotic fruit pizzas. I didn't especially like this frosting recipe, so I'm not including it. Just use your favorite frosting recipe, this search is for the yummiest COOKIE.

Jed says he liked these way better than cookie 1 but not as much as cookie 2. Princess Sparkley says she liked these better than number 2 because number 2 was a little crumbly in her opinion. Buddy and Little Guy just enjoyed gobbling them up. I didn't taste a noticeable difference between cookies 2 and 3. I would make these again and again. And then I would weigh a billion pounds.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Halfway Through Twenty-Ten Resolution Update

  • Create and order prints of Blurb books for my family blog for 2008 and 2009, (I just ordered 2007).
I have one month left to do in 2008. So that's just about on target for doing two Blurb books in one year. Yea!

  • Be able to run a mile without stopping.
I can run half a mile without stopping. We actually haven't been running a lot because it's been SO STINKIN' HOT.
I've been working on baby blankets, but one more baby project and Buddy's quilt is next.
  • Read 15,000+ pages. Include more classics, adult fiction and nonfiction.
Totally on target to surpass this. I'm at almost 10,000 pages for the first 6 months of the year. A couple have been nonfiction and I'm reading another right now. Still a lot of Young Adult, but adult fiction as well.
  • Get fit. I'm happy with how I look and I'm happy with the size clothes I wear. I just could be more toned and fit.
I need to come up with indoor fitness stuff too because running isn't working out so well now that it's hot and humid out there.
  • Use coupons.
Sort of. But not like those super coupon users who buy $200 worth of groceries for $35, or whatever.
  • Start a book club for Princess Sparkley.
Ahh! I need to do this. Poor kid. What should the first book be? She's almost 8, and reads voraciously.
  • Finish writing something.
Yikes again. Although by "something," I really left that open for myself, didn't I? I've finished writing lots of grocery lists, menus, blog posts, etc. But I was thinking more along the lines of a story or novella.
  • Be less sarcastic with my kids.
But they get my sarcasm... so I think it should be okay. Right?
  • Be more crafty and hands-on with my kids.
A little. PS and I have sewed some little projects together. I tried to do a variety of art projects with them this year. One of which is this Statue of Liberty I want to do tomorrow or next week. (Hat Tip: The Crafty Crow)
  • Plan homeschool lessons in more detail.
I think I've done alright. There's always room for improvement, but I'm okay with how the school year went. And we're sort of on hold with this until August. Right now they are just keeping up with practicing (reading, writing, adding and subtracting - Buddy - - spelling, handwriting, punctuation, capitalization, adding, subtracting, and multiplying - Princess Sparkley).
  • Visit a museum (or historic site) in Washington DC at least once a month.
January- National Postal Museum (just Jed and the kids, I had strep throat)
February- National Gallery and Museum of Natural History
March- Williamsburg, Mt. Vernon, Cherry Blossom Festival, Kite Festival, National Aquarium in Baltimore (PLUS, Philadelphia)
April- Cherry Blossom Festival, Nationals baseball game, Great Falls National Park
May- National Train Day at Union Station (Jed took Little Guy and Buddy to the Air and Space Museum)
June- Alexandria, the Torpedo Factory Art Center
July- Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge (which, according to my new book, Virginia Curiousities, is the largest tourist attraction in Virginia... kinda sad.) Plus, we're supposed to go to the National Zoo again next week with our homeschool group, and a bunch of other fun stuff with them in July... assuming we do it all.
  • Teach Buddy to read well.
He doesn't think he can read, but he does okay. He read me a number two book the other night with just a little bit of help.
  • Teach kids to ride bikes without training wheels.
We've gone out and practiced a few times, but Jed and I are stuck on how to get a kid to ride a bike without training wheels as well as how to get them to swim. Our kids just won't do it. Argh.
  • Teach Princess Sparkley to sew.
We've worked on a few projects together. Mostly she just likes pinning scraps of fabric to her doll. But we made a doll sleeping bag together. And we've worked on a couple embroidery projects together - both not finished.

New Year's Resolutions originally posted here.

Ghosts of Fourth of Julys past

Past Fourth of July recipes, books, etc.

I'd like you to imagine that these pictures are from a Fourth of July parade years ago. In reality, they are from our family watching President Reagan's motorcade pass on their way to bury him at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA. The motorcade went through our town and people lined the streets to see it.

June 2004
Camarillo, CA

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