"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, June 28, 2012

Angry Birds

Probably like most kids (and adults) in America*, my kids are currently obsessed with Angry Birds.  The downside, we don't have smartphones or Ipads so they used to only get to play when they were visiting relatives who did own said devices.  Not anymore.  For his birthday in January, Little Guy got this physical, build up blocks and launch a bird at them, board game version of Angry Birds.  He loves it.  And just recently he decided to save up his money for this other version.  (I've seen both at Target.)  Plus, we recently discovered this website where we can play online.  (And this one where you can play my favorite, Cut the Rope.)

I've spent all week printing out Angry Bird coloring pages for Little Guy who then colors them and insists I cut out all the birds and pigs.  We have dozens of Angry Bird bits of paper floating around our house.  So it was an awesome discovery at A.C. Moore (our local craft store) when we found Angry Birds coloring books for $1 each yesterday.  We got two.  I might need to go back for more since he's already colored a bunch of the pages.

*We're a little slow on these types of technological advancements.  It wasn't until earlier this week that Little Guy informed me the birds are angry because the piggies stole their eggs.  I seriously had no idea.  And when Angry Birds first became a hit, Little Guy called them the Mad Birds.  I sort of miss that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

4th of July Wreath by Princess Sparkley

Using this as our guide, Princess Sparkley (with some touch up work by me) created a Fourth of July wreath today for our front door.  Instead of using a foam wreath, we used a quilting hoop I got off Freecycle awhile ago.  And all the fabric was stuff I had from abandoned or leftover projects. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Parenting Lesson Learned Today

Never tell your kids when you might do something fun.
We sent our kids to bed last night with the idea that we (the decision-makers) were going to discuss and decide about a fun activity for the day.  At the time, we were debating between camping at First Land State Park in Virginia Beach, or possibly just going to the beach for the day.  After they were in bed we checked the weather and there was a 40% chance of scatter thunderstorms from noon until 8PM.  Neither idea seemed all that great while raining. 
Princess Sparkley immediately broke in tears (moping for several hours).  And this was not even knowing what the plan was, just that we were going to do something.  Maybe we should have more of our exciting activities be stuff like: clean out the closets, scrub toilets, etc.  Then if we cancelled said plans, nobody would cry.
So, to try to make it up to the kids for the failed camping/beach trip (which could have still happened later in the week possibly), we had a different, not as fun plan (that we also didn't tell them the details of, we just packed them in the car letting them know they'd be there for about an hour) and that it was nothing exciting.  But we get in the car and the car is braking strangely, we basically circle a big block and get dropped off at home.  Jed and PS then took our car to get fixed.  Our exciting day went from exciting to boring and depressing.  At least PS is now having the fun excursion of walking home from the car place (it's less than a mile away). 
Meanwhile, Buddy just wandered in and asked when we were going to do our fun thing for the day.  Argh...

Americana Recap

Just a reminder since I probably won't have anything new to add this year, here are all my past 4th of July related posts. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012


We're crazy enough to think about going camping in the next couple of weeks.  Mainly because we've been promising the kids we'd go forever, and I'd rather go now than with a newborn.  Here are some links to all the camping advice, etc. I've been finding online.

Tin foil dinners
More tin foil dinners
Tin foil dinner tips
More foil meals
Camping Monkey Bread
Pancake batter in a Ziplock (picture here, scroll down a bit)
Orange Rolls over a campfire
Breakfast eggs in foil bowls
Personalized campfire sticks
Or, the dollar section at Target right now has telescoping Marshmallow roasters
Tips on planning a menu and prepping camp food
10 easy breakfast camping recipes
Tips for camping food
Family Camping Q & A
Pie Iron recipes
More pie iron recipes
No utensil cooking
Bug buttons

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Worm

     In case you've already forgotten this post, Princess Sparkley is a book worm.  I'm beginning to think she's actually a faster reader than either Jed or myself.  We've recently cracked down on how many library books we can check out at a time because the library was losing track of what we'd returned and we were having to hunt them down on the shelves to prove to the librarians that we had indeed returned said books.  Not to mention there were some books we were renewing four times (meaning they were in our house for five months) so we insisted these books be read before new ones could be obtained.  Most of these were books that Jed picked out for PS and once she finally read them, she enjoyed them, but she put them off forever (or, in actuality, half a year). 
     We returned a stack of library books on Monday or Tuesday and each of the kids just got two or three new books.  Today, Thursday, we went to a different library so I could find two books on the shelf and let the librarians know that, yes, we had returned those books.  PS asked if we could get books.  I said no, we just got books a couple days ago.  To which she responded, but I'm already done with those books.  I told her that meant she was getting books that were too far below her reading level and we needed to get harder books for her.  I told her we should look for the second book in the Benedict Society series.  I'd read the first book aloud to them earlier this year, or possibly last year.  We found that book, came home around lunchtime, did a shortened summer school day and after dinner I overhead PS and Jed talking about how she was done with that book already.  So, in less than five hours, she'd read a 464 page book for 5th-7th graders (she's just finished 4th grade).  I don't think I could have read that book that quickly. 
     I was excited then, when I came across this link on Pinterest, Top Read Aloud Chapter Books Starring Mighty Girls.  And while this list does have a lot of great books on it, she's already read more than half of them.  At least it's a start...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I. Am. Bored.  I want to be doing something.  But nothing sounds worthwhile to me to be doing. 

I feel like reading, but can't find a book that I want to read.

I feel like sewing, but can't find any fabric that I like.

I feel like watching a movie or something, but nothing looks/sounds interesting. 

Do you ever get in these moods?  There are dozens of things I could be occupying my time with right now, but I don't want to do any of them, even though part of me wants to do all of them.  Does that make sense?

Summer Solstice

So... I've always thought my birthday was on the last day of spring.  But it's today, and today is the first day of summer.  I'm thinking maybe it's a Leap Year thing and I just haven't paid much attention to it before.  Anyway, it does make my day a little more exciting because when my birthday is on the Summer Solstice, it's also the longest day of the year.  Hip hip hooray.  Except, technically, we aren't celebrating it until the weekend when Jed's semester is over and he's not swamped with classes and grading papers.  Maybe the kids and I will go out for ice cream.

Monday, June 18, 2012

When to Nest

I don't know that I ever really get the "nesting" kick that so many pregnant women talk about.  There comes a point when I realize I need to get stuff ready for the baby, but that's just logic.  I'm at a point in this pregnancy (32 1/2 weeks) when it's too soon to *really* get ready for the baby, even if it is sort of soon.  I'm not going to pull out all the baby clothes and wash them in Dreft.  I'm not going to set up the crib.  I'm not putting the car seat in the car.  Etc.  So what do I do?
I want to make a boy version of this, like the one I made for Buddy awhile back.  But I can't find any fabrics that are jumping out at me to use them.  Crazy, since usually fabric is jumping out at me and I have no project for which to use them.  I've bought the fabric for the nursing cover I've commissioned (can it be described as commissioned if no money trades hands?) my mother-in-law to sew.  I haven't sent it to her yet because I haven't picked out the fabric for the car seat cover because I haven't gone and bought the car seat yet (and I want them to sort of match)  because 7 1/2 weeks seems too soon.  Maybe I'm just in denial about this baby coming. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

How Are You?

I assume these days what when people ask how I am, or how I'm feeling, they are referring to the pregnancy.  There isn't much to say to that other than pregnant.  Plus, I hate that I automatically answer and then say, "and how are you?" Or, "how are you feeling?"  It's like someone telling you congratulations and you accidentally responding, "Thanks, you too."  When there is no reason for you to congratulate them.

And on a similar note, people keep telling me how terrible I looked last time they saw me so they hope I'm doing better.  I did have the flu last week, which in addition to being pregnant, is not fun.  But I already feel huge, why must people point out how miserable/sick/tired I look.  Especially when I think I'm pulling off looking normal.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Random Fun

  • We live in a row of townhomes where the bottom floor where you enter is more like a basement and the kitchen/dining/living area starts on the second floor.  Sort of annoying that you have to go up a flight of stairs to be to the main living floor, but not horrible.  We don't have a back porch off the second level, but our neighbors on either side do.  (If we did as well, it would be like a block party and we could pass drinks and appetizers among the neighbors we'd be so squished together.)  Our neighbor on the right is an older lady who apparently recently acquired a fat bull dog.  Or possibly she's pet sitting.  Either way, it apparently can't handle the steps down the back porch so several times a day we see this little lady carry this tubby little bull dog down and then back the steps to take care of its business.  It's a funny sight to see.
  • Our kids (the two oldest) have finally learned to ride bikes without training wheels.  They go up and down the sidewalk on the street out front.  Apparently the other day some kids got in Princess Sparkey's way, causing her to swerve and hit a car parked parallel on the street.  The people were in the car, and associated with the kids who caused the accident so they said it was okay.  I'm just glad she didn't crash into the Corvette that parks up that direction.
  • We went on a family walk/bike the other night which ended up with Jed being bitten by a 200 lb. Mastiff.  He's okay, it was just swollen and sore for a day or two.  But because of these dogs being loose from their yard we called animal control, which was closed because it was a Sunday evening, so we called the police.  They insisted on coming to see us as well as collecting the dogs back into their yard.  It was the highlight of the week in Little Guy's mind.  For several days now he's said "thank you the police man came to our house" in his prayers.  
  • It's much easier to deal with Buddy as a sick kid than Princess Sparkley.  Princess Sparkley is constantly trying to convince us she's ready to eat food again, eats too much too soon and pukes it up again.  Buddy has only had 6 crackers, one applesauce, two pieces of toast, an English muffin and a few glasses of Sprite and water in the past 36 hours.  Princess Sparkley would have been demanding full meals hours ago. 
  • At my check-up this week I found out I passed by three hour glucose test and lost 2 or 3 lbs.  I told Jed we needed to celebrate by getting donuts from Shoppers (our local grocery store with giant, delicious donuts).  I was sort of joking.  Instead we got ice cream and watched part of season two of Downton Abbey.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Turning 10

When Princess Sparkley's tenth birthday was much further away, I had this brilliant idea to get her a pet for her birthday.  It's her Golden Birthday (turning 10 on the 10th) and it's also turning double digits!  Two exciting things.  Now that her birthday is fast approaching, I'm not sure I can handle a pet yet.  Especially not at the same time as a new baby.  She's getting a baby brother practically on her birthday, isn't that enough?  But I feel bad because this means she most likely won't have a party, get a pet, and she'll be stuck celebrating with a baby for the next few years.  But what can I do for her instead?!  I thought about bumping up her 12 year old gift, which is getting her ears pierced, but I'm not sure how Jed feels about that.  Besides it would create an upset among the girl cousins who are having to wait until they are 12 also.  I need ideas, people!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Baby Names

Jed and I are private people.  Private about stuff that of course you should be private about (testimony meeting at church often makes me uncomfortable because people are telling me stuff that they shouldn't be telling strangers, let alone from the pulpit).  But I'm finding that we are private about stuff that a lot of people don't feel the need to be private about.  Those people make me feel awkward for them too.  Anyway, we typically don't announce our baby's name until he/she is born.  I believe with Princess Sparkley, I announced her name at my baby shower.  With Buddy and then Little Guy, no one knew their names until we called to let family know they had been born.  This baby has presented a whole new situation in which Jed felt we needed to lay claim to the name before we had a nephew born (a few weeks before my due date) to a family that uses Biblical names.  (There's a clue for you, our name is Biblical.)  So, our families know the name.  Princess Sparkley has told some of the adult women she comes in contact with the baby's name.  I've even told a few people because I feel like I'm lying when I'm asked "do you have a name picked out yet?"  It used to be I could say, "Yeah, but we're not telling yet."  But the answer, "Yeah, but we're only telling select people" seems weird.  Usually I just direct people to ask Princess Sparkley.  Or I give in and tell them.  Or I avoid the question.  It's all strangely uncomfortable for me because I like it to be top secret until the baby is born.  It's not even that I don't want to tell people.  It's just something we were so secretive about for all our other babies that it feels strange to not be secretive this time round.  When I was pregnant with Buddy, the grandparents were constantly asking Princess Sparkley what her baby brother's name was going to be (we'd told her), but she was less than two years old, so slightly unintelligible.  At least I can't announce it here because none of our kids real names are here.  Hoorah.

Favorite Pinterest Recipes

Cheesey Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

Creamy Avocado w/ White Bean Chipotle Wrap

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Bean Dip

Roasted Potato Wedges

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

White Cake/Cupcake

Easy Egg and Ham Casserole (I added green onions too)

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

Mexican Pizzas

Falafel (with this homemade flat bread)

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Shredded Beef Tacos

Monday, June 04, 2012

Sewing for Baby

I have my mother-in-law lined up to sew the following projects for me (for the baby) as soon as the school year ends and she's on a break from teaching seminary

I'm thinking of this fabric:
from Joann.com

Leaning towards a fabric like this (it's a green background, which doesn't show up well here):

from Joann.com

But I think I'll wait until I've purchased the infant carseat before I decide on a fabric, so at least they don't totally clash.

And now I'm thinking I also need one of these muslin or gauze swaddle wrap blankets:

Swaddle Wraps (from here at Target or homemade at Etsy here or homemade).

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby

I just created a Target Baby registry so I could keep track of the purchases I needed to make before the baby arrives.  It told me I had 68 days.  Ahh!  At my last doctor's appointment, my doctor informed me that from now on I'll be going every two weeks.  Really?  Already?  I suppose I have hit 30 weeks, it just sort of surprised me that I'm that near the end.  Even if I do feel enormous.  And can never get comfortable.  I guess I'm just not ready for the newborn aspect of pregnancy, not that I ever am.  Although at this stage in my first pregnancy, with Princess Sparkley, we probably already had the crib set up!

So, in preparing for having a newborn again, I have a question.  What kind of infant bath seat do you prefer?  While this bath pod is probably the second most popular post on my blog, I'm not leaning in that direction.  Other suggestions?

Friday, June 01, 2012

30 weeks and 1 day

Jed told me today, "I can't believe you still have two more months to go."  Yeah, tell me about it, non-pregnant guy.

Keeping Busy

 This is probably the longest lull in my blog in... ever.  I think Pinterest and Facebook are feeding my need to do whatever it is that blogging used to fulfill.  Plus, I really have nothing to say.  I update the family blog with all the billions of pictures we take, but here... I've just slacked.

My parents came for a visit.  Here they are with the kids at the Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, VA.  They loved it.  It really is sort of a hidden gem.  Completely free, well done, and they've added some new sections just for kids.

And my parents took us to see the Nationals play the Pirates (and the Pirates won for Jed!).

Buddy was baptized on May 19th.  Hence the visit from my parents all the way from California.

The family after the baptism.  We opted for shadowed faces rather than squinty eyes.

 The whole gang.  Two sets of grandparents, an aunt, uncle and two cousins in addition to our family.

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