"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

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Every few years I post some resolutions for the New Year.  I don't think I did that for 2013 and am too lazy to check, but I'd like to for 2014.  Here's what I have so far:

Create 2013 Blurb book of family blog.
Create 2005 and 2004 Blurb books.
Be able to run/jog/walk a 5K.*
Get in a blogging mindset enabling me to blog more.
Stick to a better diet.**
Read at least 15,000 pages in at least 50 books (trying to cover a lot of genres).
Write/ work on writing.

*I'm not requiring that I actually participate in one, but I'm not completely opposed to that idea at this point.

**We've cut back on how much meat we eat, especially red meat.  We're only supposed to have dessert over the weekend, family night and special occasions.  We need to stick to that... especially after this holiday period of time.


So... we jumped on the How I Met Your Mother bandwagon way late.  I'd heard it was a good show, but by the time I heard that, I'd missed several episodes/seasons (I'm not sure) and I hate that... starting in the middle.  We have cable while we're living in Ohio so we caught a few episodes and then got seasons 1 and 2 from the library.  Meanwhile, we've also been watching them (and DVRing them).  As of right now, we have about 20 episodes recorded waiting for us.  The problem with this... we're seeing the show in a crazy order.  Oh well, it literally makes me LOL.  And I'm totally loving Neil Patrick Harris in this...super impressed with his acting.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blog bloggity blog

I realized the other day that the biggest problem with my blogging (aside from having no time) is that I used to think in a blogging mindset and I've stopped.  My blogging mindset was living my life but constantly writing little blog posts in my mind about whatever was happening or whatever random thought I was currently having.  And maybe one of those made it to the blog.  But then I stopped thinking in that mindset and the blog posts stopped.  So, one of my resolutions for the New Year it to start thinking in a blogging mindset again in 2014. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Farewell red stripey socks... you've been my favorite for awhile.

I've started getting holes in the bottoms of some of my favorite socks.  Well, more truthfully, I've had holes in some of them for awhile and am just getting around to dealing with it.  It's sad to throw socks away.  I just threw a pair away yesterday that my parents bought for me at the L.L. Bean headquarters in Maine in 1996.  I was supposed to be on that New England trip with them but was accepted to BYU only if I started in the summer.  There went my trip.  I got a warm pair of socks out of it though.  For the most part, socks are the things in my wardrobe that have been around the longest.  I feel like I need to photograph each pair before I say goodbye.  That doesn't make a me a hoarder.  Right?  Right!?  At least I AM throwing them away.  Farewell red stripey socks... you've been my favorite for awhile.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I'm sad that it's been so long since I've written a blog post.  But even sitting here, feeling like I should post something, there's nothing to say.  There's no need to share recipes or pictures because I'm not even nearly as good as all the other food bloggers out there, and I'm definitely not a food/photo or photo anything blogger.  We recently went to a family holiday dinner in Pittsburgh where one of Jed's uncles asked me how I spent my time and for the first time in a long time, I had nothing interesting to say.  Being a stay at home mom, and homeschooler is never boring nor is it luxurious and exciting to talk about.  But until now, I've at least had other stuff going on in my life.  Now I feel like I'm spending my days running from kid to kid helping them finish up their school work, and when I'm not helping them it's cleaning/picking up, doing laundry and cooking meals.  I barely have time to do the boring mundane tasks like grocery shopping.  Add to my boring life the introduction of Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter and an already dying art (can blogging be called an art?!) continues down that path.  So, until I have exciting thoughts, ideas, recipes, stories to share, this might be the last you hear from me in awhile.  So sad...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How I'm Spending My Time

Baseball playoffs (watching Red Sox, Pirates and Dodger games)

The Red Sox in the World Series (winning game one 8 to 1 - woo hoo!)

Duck Dynasty
     Seriously... we watched an episode a few weeks ago to see what all the fuss (at Walmart) was about.  It's hilarious!!

Other TV shows: Revenge, Bones, Elementary, the final season of What Not to Wear, Junior MasterChef

Book reading... because I'm way behind and I keep requesting books from the library

Virtual school for the kids.

I'm a Webelo Scout leader.

Running/managing/caring for a family of 6 (laundry, clean up, meals, etc.)

Exercise (walk/jog/bike)

Christmas shopping/craft planning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweet Caroline... dah dah dah

Cheering on my Red Sox!  Game 1 of the 2013 World Series won.  Check.


I need a new picture of me in my hat.  This is August at Assateague Island State Park.

Squirt with all the Wallys during the play offs.

Blog Title from here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Year of Monkeys

Every month starting with 3 days and ending with 12 months.

Every Friday (and every month on the 17th- the day he was born) starting with 3 days.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Favorite Season

Fall and spring are probably my favorite seasons now that I'm not living in season-less southern California.  And if it wasn't for the dread of the oncoming winter, I'd probably say fall wins.  But I have such a hard time enjoying fall because there's nothing to look forward to.  Well... there's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, soup season, etc.  But cold.  All of it cold.  At least in the spring I can look forward to a relaxing summer and try to forget how horribly hot it will be and how we won't be able to do any outdoor activities due to heat, humidity and mosquitoes.  So... even though the temperature is dropping, I'm not as happy about it as I wish I was because I know the temperature is just going to keep dropping ... and then the snow will fall.  Bleh.

What's your favorite season?  Least favorite season?

Monday, September 16, 2013


While my reading has been suffering this year, it hasn't been as bad as the list on my sidebar had been suggesting. Due to my laziness about updates, it's been stuck at 3 books read in 2013 when in actuality, I'm up to 31.  I just added the past 28 books I've read this year in case you are actually paying attention.

Favorites among them:

Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abagnale
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
Maisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (lots of swearing!)
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (lots of swearing!)
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Colors for Zena

Since I've mentioned a few of her books on the blog (here and here), I was contacted by Monica Wellington to see if I'd be interested in a copy of her new book to review.  It actually arrived in Ohio before we did!  If you are a regular, you know I love books.  You also know I have kids, love kids' books, and I homeschool our kids.

Ms. Wellington's other books that I am most familiar with involve food.  The focus of this one is colors as a little girl, Zena, goes on a walk and both discovers colors and new friends and creates new colors.

I love the book Dog's Colorful Day (mentioned in this birthday part post)Colors for Zena has a similar feel to it but starring a girl, and targeting a little older of an audience with the introduction of not just colors, but also the colors that can be created when you mix two other colors together. 

I love the artwork.  I tend to be attracted to picture books with much simpler artistic renderings.  I also love Wellington's use of colors.  The book starts in almost all black, white and gray and as she encounters a new color (example: yellow) that page is filled with yellow scenes.  Turning the page you meet red.  And even some polka dots on Zena's outfit (and dog!) change to the new color.  By the end of the book her outfit and dog are covered in polka dots of all the colors and she's created a colorful painting with her new friends: an orange lion, a green frog, and a purple dragon.  And at the very end, after the story has ended, there's a brief explanation and drawing of a color wheel, and some suggested activities that can be done with color.

A very cute book that any young child (or book loving adult) would enjoy to visit over and over again.  You can find it here and read more about it on Ms. Wellington's blog here.  Now that I've looked over some of the other books she's written, I think I'll be checking those out as well. 

Mumford and Sons

I'm adding to my concerts list.

We arrived in Ohio Friday night, August 23.  We have a rather long drive to church (just under half an hour) and we drive through Troy, Ohio.  Princess Sparkley pointed out that there was a banner/sign that said welcome Mumford and Sons.  So when we got home, we looked into it.  Troy, Ohio was one of 4 (I think) small towns chosen to host them as part of a two day summer tour called Gentlemen of the Road.  The town expected 35,000 people which more than doubled the population of Troy.  We didn't bother with tickets but figured since the concert was at the high school football stadium we could find somewhere nearby to listen.  And we did.  It was awesome.  We just couldn't see them.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


In Ohio, we live just outside the city limit of a town of 25,000.  It's actually a really cool small town.  The downtown area is filled with still functioning shops and businesses, unlike a lot of small town America we've driven through. There are all sorts of events, festivals, etc.  The big city for our area is less than 30 minutes away.  I don't have a Target in town (it's about 15 minutes away) but I do have a Walmart.  And a Sonic.  And a Jimmy Johns. 

Today we drove a few cities away to an apple festival and had two of the yummiest things ever.

1) Homemade by the Amish pecan pie.  I'm already making plans to frequent this city's farmer's market each Friday in hopes that this same Amish seller will be there again.  And I don't even like pecan pie.  I only like my brother-in-law's mom's recipe.  Jed's been buying pecan pies from grocery stores for years and I'm never even tempted by them and I have an unbelievably large sweet tooth.  This pie... Mmmmm.  Plus a cute Amish baby in little overalls.

2) Bottled root beer from a small business that frequents festivals like this.  It's called Fent's and it's based out of Springfield, OH.  There's just something about drinking root beer out of a bottle.  Reminds me of college and Henry Weinhard's root beer.  Mmmm.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I think this is probably the longest lapse in blogging I've had since the blog began so many years ago. And a lot has happened. 

We're now residents of Ohio. We packed up everything we own and it magically fit onto the largest Penske truck you can rent (which it barely did when we moved in 2009 and in 2005 and we've only gained kids and stuff) and we moved to Ohio. I believe we are in western Ohio but my Ohio geography is still rather sub-par. 

Today was the first day of school for our kids and I'm realizing how ridiculous my earlier plan was. I'm not sure I'm going to have time to shower, let alone do anything else all day.

The boys (Buddy and Little Guy) are all settled into their room. It's actually the only room completely unpacked (except the giant Lego box in their closet). Princess Sparkley and Squirt are set up in her room but with a few glitches for being all the way finished. PS's loft bed needs a slight adjustment to the ladder so the box of it is on the floor which means her desk and cube storage system aren't under it so the bookshelf can't be where it's supposed to be so she's still living among half unpacked boxes bugging us to let her alphabetize the books on her shelf (even if it's casually leaning against the dresser in the middle of the room). Our living/school room is coming together nicely.  I just got the table cleared off so we can set up all the school supplies.  I'm not thinking about all our boxes of food and kitchen stuff yet.  Nor am I thinking about the garage that still has all the stuff we need to store away in the basement.  We'll get there.  And then it'll be time to pack up and move again. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Plan

I have these great visions of the next year.  Jed furiously writing his dissertation, the kids being extremely occupied with the homeschool curriculum we've signed them up for and me having all sort so free time with which to read, write and blog.  Let's all cross our fingers that this is how things roll.  Okay?  Pretty please.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yellow Bird on the Move Again

I reserved our truck this week.  It's official.  Jed's super nice parents offered to let us live with them for one year in Ohio while Jed finishes his dissertation.  This way he can be done with it and not have to worry about juggling it and work/commute/stress.  And then we're done.  And hopefully this time next year he'll have an official teaching position somewhere and the Yellow Bird will be moving once more.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Foreign To Do List

I'm beginning to think that I was too young, inexperienced, and whatever the opposite of well-read would be, to have enjoyed Europe as much as I should have.  Not that I didn't enjoy it, but there are so many more things I wish I had seen, done or eaten while I was over there.

I went did a study abroad program through BYU to London in the spring of 1999 focusing on Shakespeare and theatre.  While there I visited Scotland and on the way home I spent two weeks making my way through Spain, Switzerland and France. 

I just recently learned about macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) and now I've decided I need to start a list of stuff to do in Europe if I ever go back.  Here goes:

Eat macarons in France.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Because I love lists and I love baseball...

Baseball Stadiums I've been to:
Fenway Park
 Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Kauffman Stadium
Angel Stadium of Anaheim
 Nationals Park
Great American Ball Park
Busch Stadium
Coors Field
Dodger Stadium
Jack Murphy Stadium (no longer home of the Padres)

 Ballparks I've driven past:
Yankee Stadium
O.Co Coliseum
PNC Park
U.S. Cellular Field
Citi Field
Citizens Bank Park
Wrigley Field

Baseball teams I've seen play: (missing a bunch I just can't remember)
Red Sox
Blue Jays


Friday, May 31, 2013


I can never find a baby book I like and having been the third child in my own family, whose baby book only lists a few things past gifts received at a baby shower, I try to be good about keeping up the baby books. I got a coupon from Target for a free 8x8 20 page Shutterfly book and thought I'd put it to use and create a baby book for Squirt. Then I dug out the calendar for dates of things in his life and realized I've done a poor job this year keeping track on my physical calendar and my Google calendar. Most everything is only on the Google Calendar. I need to fix that because at the end of the year, I "file" away the calendar as a "journal." I also realized I haven't updated height and weights for any of the other kids in probably years in their baby books. And I had to dig out their baby books as a reference for what I'd want in Squirt's, so I might as well update theirs. Now I find myself buried in a pile of file folders with doctor's records and other unrelated stuff associated with each kid, baby books, pictures that need to be filed away, calendars, etc. I've dug myself into a deep deep hole that I may never surface from.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 17

I saw this recipe on Pinterest for Swig Sugar Cookies.  They are supposedly a copycat recipe for a place in St. George, Utah. The pin described them as "Literally the Best Cookie Known to Man."  So of course, I had to try them.  Here's my biggest problem with this cookie, it's really more of a shortbread cookie than a sugar cookie.  If you go into a bite expecting sugar cookie and get shortbread, it's a bit of a shock.  I like shortbread cookies, but they're very different than a sugar cookie.  I didn't love them, or the sour cream frosting, but that didn't keep me from eating a bunch.  The kids loved them.  Jed gave them two stars and a "would not eat again" status.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spoon Rest

I had a brilliant epiphany last night that puts all of my past baking years to shame.  Growing up, we always had a spoon rest next to the stove.  That's where my spoon rest is.  When I bake, I'm always scrambling for somewhere to put the scraper/spatula after I've used it in the mixing bowl and it usually ends up in the bowl I softened the butter in or on a scrap of paper towel, or just on the counter.  Last night, I realized I could use the spoon rest in this capacity.  How had I never figured this out before!?!?!?  Do you ever have "DUH!" moments while you're in the kitchen.


It's long over due... Mystery Baby's new blog name is...


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Goals

In addition to our family's goals of things to check off our D.C./East Coast to do list, I have a lot of school/learning things I want the kids to accomplish this summer.

Every summer we keep up with reading, journal writing and math because I don't want to reteach it all again in the fall.  Last summer's fun focus was United States geography. I wanted the kids to learn all their states and capitals.  We did okay.

This summer, I would like to focus on:

Science projects and experiments

Art (I have little artistic talent and need to find someone who can teach my kids things like shading, etc.)

Story writing


Some of these are things that fall by the wayside during the school year.  We studied a lot of science, but didn't have as much time to delve into big projects.  They draw all the time, but I'm not the person to teach them art.  They write stories, etc. but I want to actually critique them and help make them awesome.  And Spanish... it just always gets forgotten.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

DC/Virginia Checked Off List

Here's what we've done while living in Metro DC.  We didn't really have a To Do List when we moved here, but this is what we've accomplished so far.  I'm sure I'm leaving a bunch off too.

Rode the Metro
Air and Space Museum on the mall
National Museum of the American Indian
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery of Art
Sculpture Garden
Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park
National Zoo (several times)
US Botanic Garden
US Capitol
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
National Archives
National Museum of American History
Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Constitution Garden Pond
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
World War II Memorial
American Art Museum
National Building Museum
The Ellipse
National Christmas Tree
Cherry Blossoms
George Mason Memorial
Korean War Veteran's Memorial

Air and Space Museum at Dulles (multiple times)
Mount Vernon
Clemyjontri Park
Great Falls National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Arlington National Cemetery
Iwo Jima Memorial
George Washington's Birthplace
Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Stonewall Jackson's Shrine
Manassas National Battlefield
Virginia Capitol (Richmond)
Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Delaware State Capitol (Dover, DE)
Lewes Ferry

National Aquarium in Baltimore
Fort McHenry (Baltimore)
Orioles baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Maryland State Capitol (Annapolis, MD)

Rita's Water Ice
Redding Terminal
Valley Forge National Park
Independence Hall
Liberty Bell Center
Betsy Ross's house
Franklin Institute
Franklin Court
Ate a Philly Cheesesteak at Geno's

To Do in D.C. List

Our time in the Washington D.C. area could be nearing an end as Jed finishes up his doctoral degree (classes are done, he's working on getting his dissertation approved and from there, we can move anywhere).  We've done a ton, but we've slacked off in our sight seeing while I was pregnant with Mystery Baby and after he was born.  Here's our family's list so far... I'll keep adding to it (and take suggestions - local people, hint hint).

The List

Touch the Atlantic Ocean 8/8/13
Eat Philly cheesesteaks at Gino's or Pat's in Philadelphia.4/2013
New York City 5/2013
Camping trip8/8/13-8/9/13
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Visit the top of the Washington Monument (dependent on it reopening)
Tour White House (stinkin' sequester) *
Eat crab cakes near Chesapeake Bay 8/9/13
Tour Nationals Ballpark
Georgetown Cupcakes **
Family picture in D.C. ***
Albert Einstein statue 7/25/13
D.C. United game
Cumberland bike trail 7/20/13
Renwick Gallery 7/25/13
Lighthouse 8/9/13
National Cathedral 8/17/13

Amish country in Pennsylvania 5/2013
Maryland High Point 7/20/13
Finish the Junior Ranger program for the National Mall 7/25/13
Picture of the Lincoln Memorial 7/25/13
See The Preamble in license plates at the Museum of American Art 7/25/13
Chesapeake Bay Bridge (again) 8/9/13

*We got better pictures of the outside than we have before and since it's closed, that's about all we could do.

**Drove past it and saw the line on the way to the National Cathedral but it was Squirt's bday and we already had a giant cake ready and waiting at home and no one wanted to park and wait in line.  Someday...

***My plan was a picture with the Washington Monument in the background and it's covered in scaffolding!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Anytime Gift List

I was thinking up little, inexpensive things the kids could get me for Mother's Day earlier this week and decided I should type up a list so I don't forget some of my good ideas.

a microwavable syrup pitcher (maybe a creamer pitcher)
vanilla scented lotion
The Parent Trap dvd (Lindsay Lohan and Hayley Mills versions)
stackable rings with the kids' names on them
titanium or platinum earrings
decorative globes
salad shooter
hand stamped necklace
spatulas (or, as Pampered Chef calls them to differentiate between spatulas and spatulas, scrapers)
cake stand with dome lid

Thursday, May 02, 2013


If you know me, it will be no surprise to you that I avoid confrontation at all costs.  Even non-confrontational confrontations.  Even social media confrontations, which are a bit safer since you aren't face to face with the person, and might not even know them.  I'm a bit braver online than in person, but not much. 

Today I read this article: An 18 year old honor student and Eagle Scout, weeks shy of graduation was expelled and charged with a felony for accidentally leaving his gun (from a previous days' hunting trip) in his truck.  He realized his mistake and was calling his mom to come get it when an school official overheard, he explained himself (honesty and responsibly) and has been expelled and charged with a felony. 

Granted, this specific article was written on a pro-gun website, but the story seems pretty straight forward.  A Facebook friend "shared" the story and her first commenter, a person I don't know said, "This happened at my high school. His expulsion was reversed. But that was years before 9/11. They do have these rules for a valid reason. And it must be the same for everyone unfortunately :-/"

Seriously.  SERIOUSLY.  People who accidentally forget they have a gun in their car from going hunting with friends the other day should have their lives ruined just the same as people who came to school with a gun on purpose with a plan to use it?!!??!   

I didn't say all that to the friend of a friend.  I just asked if she'd actually read the article.  It seems hard to believe anyone would have that opinion about ruining an 18 year old's future for a simple mistake that he was trying to take care of.  Had he just left the gun alone in his truck all day, no one would have even found out.  


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sneaky Tasks

Does stuff sneak up on you that you've totally forgotten you are supposed to be busily working on?  I'm talking big things, not the realization that you have no idea when the last time you washed anyone's sheets was.  And not the item on your to do list that is always on your to do list. Jed reminded me a few weeks ago that his Sunday activity is supposed to be Family History and mine is supposed to be converting our family blog into Blurb books.  It's April and I'd completely forgotten.  I haven't even thought about start the 2012 Blurb book once 2012 ended. In almost 5 months I it hasn't once crossed my mind. 

Soccer season has started which means that when I thought I was busy before... yeah, I'm busier.  In fact, I've spent the last few weeks wondering how people keep their house clean while living life.  I realize that homeschooling changes the dynamics of our family and our busyness, but it's seriously been a struggle these past few weeks to fit in school and cleaning and various appointments and projects.  And yes, I should utilize the kids but they barely have time to do anything either.  I think we all need a good course on time management.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Human Kindness

After the September 11th attacks in 2001 and Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping the following year, I spent hours watching the news on television.  I was addicted.  This time around, with the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, I no longer have cable, and I do have little kids with little eyes and ears that I don't want exposed to all of this.  Instead of watching the news, I'm reading various news websites and various news articles.  This article I found especially sweet:


Especially this paragraph:
Like many local bars, diners, and coffee shops in many other towns rocked by calamity, Czech Stop has transformed virtually overnight into a hub of refuge. After December's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the owners of Blue Colony Diner fed hundreds of volunteers, policemen, firefighters, and first responders, earning the nickname "The Food Angels." The morning after Hurricane Sandy struck, David T. Holmes III turned It's a Wrap, his lunch cafe in Plainfield, New Jersey, into a relief station for 10 days, offering victims free coffee, soup, power, and a place to sleep. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Joann Guidos kept Kajun's Pub open so that "the lonely and broke would not endure the ordeal alone." Homeowners fleeing the deadly June 2012 wildfires in Colorado congregated at Bob's Coffee Shop in Laporte, to figure out, over danishes, where the megafire was headed next.

I didn't see where it specified that Czech Stop is doing everything for free; it did mention donations though.  But this paragraph does specifically mention the place in New Jersey that offered free coffee, soup, power and a place to sleep for ten days following Hurricane Sandy. I find that remarkable and just so kind.  In a world that has become all about money, for people to not use these disasters as a way to make big money, but as a way to help.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My "Strike It Rich" List

This is my "strike it rich" list, or my "you just won the lottery!" list.  All the pretty expensive stuff I want, but don't need, that I'd buy if I had lots of extra money.  I'm sure I'll keep adding to this list as I think of things, but for now:

a nice camera
a mixer that can handle 10 cups of flour in a cinnamon roll recipe.

fog and bubble machine
portable fire pit
New frying pans in a variety of sizes

Monday, April 01, 2013


Several years ago I went with my mom to visit one of her friends at a home they'd bought and renovated near my parents' home.  This woman gave us the tour of her new kitchen complete with a two drawer dishwasher that was separate so when it was just she and her husband they could run one drawer of the dishwasher rather than a full load.  I loved the idea.  Now, I dream of the day when that can happen.  My current state, I'm going to have to start handwashing some stuff if I don't want to run the dishwasher more than once a day. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Calming Down the Holidays

I'm just as guilty as Princess Sparkley when it comes to wanting to go overboard with holidays.  All holidays.  The difference is that I have limits.  And I know what are our actual traditions vs. what she thinks are our traditions.  Some how, this year, the kids all made leprechaun traps (they did last year as well) on their own and expected leprechauns and candy.  Because it was a tradition.  But it actually isn't.  Jed was nice and drew them all a leprechaun that their traps caught.  But all I did was make sure we all wore green and we had Irish pasties (hand pies) *for dinner (because I refuse to make/eat corned beef).

That being said, this article struck a chord: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/can-we-bring-the-holidays_b_2903040.html

And now with Easter approaching, I'm hoping we can keep things calm, simple and Christ-centered.  Here are some ideas for Easter that hopefully keep it focuses not on the Easter bunny, but also don't make it even busier than it needs to be.

Our hometeacher from church shared these Easter eggs scriptures with us last night (Thanks, Alanna!).

Similar to this idea.


This book about focusing on Christ for Easter looks neat.

And we've been celebrating Passover following the guidelines in this book for several years now.

*Alexia Oven Reds are DELICIOUS!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Grocery Shopping

A few years ago, we instituted legal and illegal family shopping days for the family in an effort to save money.  We've since abandoned that plan and then taken it a step further.  We're allowed to shop one day a week.  One BIG grocery trip in which my cart (and poor Mystery Baby) look like this. 

There are several downsides to this:
1. My cart is overflowing, sometimes requiring I use a second cart. :\
2. I have to be super organized about my week's menu.
3. I forget something, or it is out of stock and I have to make a tiny trip during the week.
4. It takes forever to get all this stuff.
5. It also takes forever to check out.
6. It's making me want to make multiple, shopping list specific trips.*
7. We run out of milk and bread each weekend.
8. Produce doesn't tend to last a week.

1. It's one trip a week and then it's done.  Usually.
2. It's easy to stick to a budget when all the shopping is happening right then.
3. Saving on gas.
4. Saving on those little extra purchases we'd be making on each grocery trip.

We've recently decided there needs to be a second shopping trip with summer nearing and us planning eating a lot more fruits and veggies. 

*A grocery trip.  A food storage trip.  And a household items trip.

Friday, March 08, 2013

New favorite thing

Read about it here.
Natural.  No High Fructose Corn Syrup.  And so yummy.  Even my kids will eat it .  (They're weird and prefer grape jelly.  Bleh.) This is the next best thing to homemade freezer jam or this mail-order jam from Bithell Farms that my mom gets.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I'm not sure why my life suddenly seems so ridiculously busy.  There wasn't a huge change... I just feel like I don't have time to do even half the stuff I need to get done anymore.  BUT, I don't want to blog about that over and over again.  Believe me, I could.  Here's today's question... how, on top of everything else that needs to be getting done, including giant piles of laundry, do you also have time to wash everyone's sheets on a somewhat regular basis?  It's too embarrassing to even tell you when the last time the kids' sheets were washed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Banned Words

What words are banned at your house?  And I'm not talking the actual swear words.  I'm not even talking about words that are just bad in your family (ie: we couldn't say "butt" in my family growing up).  I'm speaking of those obnoxious phrases, whines, complaints that your kids say that you just can't handle hearing anymore. 

Here are the banned phrases at our house:

1) "That's not fair."  Or, any use of the word fair when used in comparison to what a sibling or parent is getting that they aren't.

2) "Actually..." This is usually followed by some smart alecky correction about how the parent is wrong and the kid is thus going to correct them in the middle of getting in trouble for something else.  Basically, it's pointing out that they are right for no reason.

3) "One minute."  This is said to me anytime I ask a kid to do something for me.  I don't have "one minute" to wait for them to finish playing with Legos, or whatever, I need them to do what I've asked them to do for me right exactly now.

What words/phrases are banned at your house?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Feb. 10

A dozen years ago, Jed asked me to marry him

I said yes. 

Thanks for asking, Cutie.

*If you look closely at the sign, Jed wrote "est. 1984," which makes us seem ancient, but really, marks the year his family moved to California and he decided he wanted to marry me.  We were six.

**Wouldn't Fishbowl be an awesome last name!?!

***Family pics courtesy of Emma J.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Week

I feel like this week will be much calmer than last week, minus three doctor appointments for Little Guy and a birthday party.   Here's what's on the schedule:


-a bunch of church stuff and meetings (dealing with my new calling in the Young Women's presidency)
-update family blog

-school, chores, clean-up (repeat daily)
-basically get back to a normal but uber-productive way of life

- homeschool book club (which I am in charge of)
-grocery trip
-Activity Days, Cub Scouts, Beehive activity

-something for Valentine's Day
-the older two kids have a cooking class at night

-spelling tests
-call two relatives for birthdays
-skip the homeschool Valentine Party

-clean the church
-bake Mystery Baby a half-birthday cake

 -Throughout the week, I need to be working on my reading, journal writing, writing, blogging, etc. Etc. Etc.   Oh, and caring for, teaching, picking up after and feeding a bunch of other people.  I feel a bit like Bella in Notting Hill when she says, "And to add insult to serious injury -- I've totally given up smoking, my favourite thing..."  I'm not sure I have time to read this stack of books.  Not to mention the ones I have on hold at the library.  And the ones on the Kindle waiting for me.


I wrote that post about my LOOSE connections to famous people, and forgot all about this one until I was at Barnes and Noble last night and saw her books . . .  everywhere.  You might recognize them below.  I took a few classes at BYU with Ally Condie (and her husband, before they were married, before his mission even).  I was just acquaintances with them, but we did in fact sort of know each other. I ended up knowing her brother-in-law even better.  He was in my ward and family home evening group a couple years later. 

You can get to them all here at Amazon.com.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Reading Stack

Good Omens
Pretty Little Liars
Navigating Early
Code Name Verity
Animal Farm
The Way They Learn
Every Child Can Succeed
The Last Dragonslayer

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Blog Fame

You know how some blogs have sponsored giveaways for Kitchen Aid mixers, etc.  Well, I'm not that kind of blog.  But Kohl's did contact me about this post and shared with me a coupon code to share with you.  Here it is:

The exclusive 10% off blogger code for kohls.com. You can use TENFORBLOG through March 9th, 2013. It can be used to stack savings with one other code as well.

It's almost as cool as when Rhodes Rolls sent me a dry ice pack of frozen rolls to try out and blog about.  Now if only Jed hadn't gone on his shopping spree (partially at Kohl's) LAST weekend...

Monday, February 04, 2013


I have so many awesome plans:

The kids are going to get ahead in school.  That's one of the great bonuses of homeschooling, right?

We're going to be awesome about doing our chores and getting our house clean.

We're going to keep it clean.

We're going to be organized.

I'm going to blog.  And read.  And cook.  And bake.  And sleep.  And have friends.

I'm going to start a cooking/reading/kid project/blog.

I'm going to make the homeschool book club successful.

We're going to actually make it to some homeschool activities so my kids can socialize with their friends.

Princess Sparkley wants a book club.  And a diorama club.  And a cooking club.  

The kids are going to be involved in sports and other activities.

I'm going to be able to see my desk someday.

I'm going to shower daily.

I'm going to have an awesome homeschool blog.

I'm going to have great projects and lessons for my kids.

And then it's almost 5PM and I find myself struggling to get any of the things done we were supposed to do today.  I realize the dryer buzzed an hour ago and I haven't made it downstairs yet to switch the loads.  The kids still don't have this week's spelling lists.  I forgot all about my cooking/reading/kid project/blog plan for weeks.  Little Guy has three doctor's appointments and a birthday party this week to go to which means our school plans are shot in the foot.  I didn't go visiting teaching for church at all last month. I haven't made it to the grocery store today and today is our shopping day which means we're running out of everything.  The mess I got all cleaned up last week has reappeared.  My Google Calendar is packed.  Saturday was the only empty day for the entire month and then Jed sent me a message that he has a thing that afternoon.

I spent one year as the Primary president before we left Kansas and I felt like I spent that entire year just staying afloat.  I wasn't good.  I wasn't successful.  I just survived.  And that doesn't make me happy.  I feel like that's how I am now in my entire life ... I'm surviving, not succeeding.  

Friday, February 01, 2013

Angry Birds Party

 So, this wasn't an actual party.  It was just dessert and presents with extended family.  But I figured I should still document it on here.  I got the idea for the cake from here.  I didn't actually click on the picture on Pinterest and read her entire blog post until now.  It would have been smart for me to look and see the double layer of her wafer tower and the long cake.  I only saw the close up of the piggy building.  And I paid no attention to the chocolate stick supports she had.  That would have been helpful, ours collapsed several times in the making.  Oh well.  It was fun and Little Guy enjoyed getting to knock it down with an Angry Bird after he blew out the candles.

Book Shop

I ventured into Barnes and Noble* the other day with all four kids.  It was sort of fun to see their end cap displays and see how many books on them were favorites of mine from last year.  Or were books I've read.  Pretty good since this is only the teen section of the store.  Also pretty sad because most of the books I read in 2012 were teen books.

I've marked them for your easy scanning.  The Green Circles mean they are on my top 10 of 2012 list.  The Orange Circle means I've read them.  The Yellow Circle means a book by the same author made my 2012 list.  Sorry, you may have to click to enlarge to be able to see my Circles.

I find what fits under "realistic fiction" humorous for some of these books.

*PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Barnes and Noble, do not shut down the one in my town.  We already lost Borders.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I probably have a dozen email addresses.  Some I'm sure aren't active anymore (for instance, I think I had three byu.edu addresses).  One is for junk junk email.  This account gets checked... maybe every three months.  Maybe.  I think it shuts down if I go a year between log-ins.  I have one for Craigslist.  One for my family blog.  Another one for my new family blog.  I have one for Yahoo just so I can be a part of Yahoo groups.  Then I have my two main gmail accounts.  Once is for personal correspondences.  The other is for some personal emails, but mostly subscription emails that I actually want to see.  I'm usually logged into both (in different browsers).  Now that we have smart phones (yea!) I've unsubscribed from a bunch of junk emails, or transferred them from my personal email account to my junk/personal email account.  Which means every time I check my personal email account there's nothing new.  Turns out, no one emails me.  It's sort of sad.

Getting Ahead... Or Not

I can not get ahead this week.  I feel like I spent an entire day doing laundry and cleaning the living room to which Jed remarked, that's sad because it isn't really noticeable.  (To his credit, my desk was and is still a disaster and the cleaning and been stuff like sweeping, vacuuming the rug and vacuuming up dust bunnies, undecorating from birthdays and decorating for Valentine's Day).  My desk is a huge mess.  And now the kids think they get to add to the piles.  The laundry basket is a tower of clean clothes waiting to get folded and put away . . . again.  The pile of dirty laundry is growing.  I'm only 50% through with the book for my book club tonight.  The living room is all cluttered again.  And the pile of stuff I need to return to stores is getting bigger and bigger (the wrong formula, the wrong pen refills, a phone screen protector we changed our minds about, a pair of jeans that are the wrong size).  My sewing list is mostly repairs (so not fun) and ridiculously long.  My stack of library books is coming due before I get around to reading them. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Name Dropping

I thought I'd already written a post about my loose connections to semi-famous people, but I can't find it.  So I thought about writing a new one with my recent discovery, and Jed beat me to it with his post.

Famous people I've met:
-Matthew Perry
-D.B. Sweeney
-Ron Wilson
-Ryan Francis
-Barry Melrose

It was 1993- ish and they were all at the top of their game.  Friends was huge.  Sweeney, well, we didn't know who he was but he was super nice.  Wilson and Melrose were the current hockey coaches for the Ducks and the Kings.  And Ryan Francis was the cute teenager on the tv show Sisters.

With my high school BFFS Jenny and Julie.  Ryan Francis.

Jenny, Barry Melrose, me

Now, for famous people I have weird connections to.

Justin Cash, not super famous, but you can currently buy his cd at Desseret Book (and Amazon.com and iTunes).  He was a good friend of mine at BYU.  It's super fun to see his cd in the Deseret Book catalog that came in the mail and at a church bookstore.

Now for the stretches, the older brother of the lead singer for Imagine Dragons was in my freshman ward at BYU (actually lived on the same floor of DT as Justin Cash).  Didn't really know him well, but immediately put together a Mormon kid with the last name Reynolds from Las Vegas as the lead singer of Imagine Dragons with the kid from my ward, and I was right.

Neon Trees.  No connection whatsoever, but they are also Mormon.  And if I'm doing crazy jumps like that, so is Brandon Flowers from The Killers.  It seems like there was another stretchy connection, but I should stop while I'm ahead, except I think I'm already behind.  I like connections that remind me it's a small world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Top 2012 Reads

Looking over the books I read in 2012, I feel like maybe I didn't really challenge myself.  BUT, in my defense, I was pregnant or caring for a newborn for the entire year, so... in no particular order, these were the favorites of the 58 books I read in 2012.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
warnings: slight language, minor talk of sex, mild drinking

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom
warnings: slight language, mild talk of sex and anatomies, minor teen drinking and drugs
A review from a fellow reviewer is here.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
warnings: a few f-words, one sex scene
Holes by Louis Sachar

Not necessarily this book, but I love this series.  If there wasn't boy/girl chemistry going on, I would let my ten year old read them.  I just don't want to encourage her to be boy crazy this early.

Marcelo and the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
warnings: bad language including more than a handful of the f-word, crude sexual talk (not from the main character)
A fellow reviewers review here.

Stuff Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler Illustrated by Maira Kalman
warnings: lots of bad language, teen sex, teen drinking
My full review is here.

Don't Mess With Travis by Bob Smiley

Curveball: The Year I Lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
warnings: underage drinking

Honorable Mentions:

Your Left-handed Child by Lauren Milsom
Super fascinating, but maybe not unless you are trying to raise a left-handed kid and you are right-handed.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Warnings: this book is intriguing and crazy but also full of language and horrible sexual descriptions.  See my full review here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Out with the Old, In with the New

Purchased at Kohl's approximately 10+ years ago

Purchased at Kohl's in January with Christmas money (find it here)
Kohl's has contacted me about this post and shared this coupon code with me and my readers:
the exclusive 10% off blogger code for kohls.com. You can use TENFORBLOG through March 9th, 2013. It can be used to stack savings with one other code as well.

You know how you don't think something you own is super old until you realize you owned it before you were married? Or something similar?  I've had the same wallet for a long time.  I either purchased it when I first got married, or when Princess Sparkley was a baby, I can't remember.  I got a new one for Christmas but it turned out there is too much junk I actually have to carry with me to fit in a normal wallet, so I got this cool one.  I kinda like it.  I shocked Jed with how colorful it is.  Apparently that's not normal for me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Resolutions: 2013 Edition

#1: Make a list of resolutions and blog it.

#2: Blog more and blog better.

#3: Blurb books of the family blog for 2006, 2012 and possibly 2005.

#4: Read 18,000 pages.

#5: Work on my writing (stories, writing blog, etc.)

#6: Create bucket list of stuff to do in DC before we move because that date is getting closer and closer.

#7: Complete DC Bucket List.

#8: Health (reform our bad eating habits)

#9: Fitness (run or walk 3-4 times per week*)

#10: Be a better mom, homeschool teacher, wife.**

*I can already see this one failing because it's cold and drizzly today and I'm recovering from the flu. But I need to exercise, especially in good weather.

**I know, can I get any more general?

Mystery Baby's Blog Name

Mystery Baby needs a new blog name.  I'm not really sure what it should be though.  I've tried to keep the boy blog names as sort of generalized references to boys ... Buddy and Little Guy.

What's left?  After looking through the thesaurus...


I'm not sure I'm in love with any of those.  Do you have a favorite, or another suggestion?

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Remember last year when I promised some New Year's Resolutions for 2012 since I hadn't made any in 2011 (or at least failed to declare them on the blog) and thus, didn't really work on or accomplish anything of that sort.  Yeah, and then I never actually got around to making and blogging about my 2012 resolutions.

Notice how today is January 10, 2013 and I still haven't made any resolutions for 2011, or 2012, or 2013?  I'll get on that.  Really.  Seriously.  This time I'm going to do it.  Sadly, many will probably be carry overs from 2010.  But I will do it!

Resolution #1: Make a list of New Year's Resolutions this year AND blog it.

See, I've already started.

Today's To Do List

Grocery Shop
Undecorate from Christmas
Bring in snow boots from car
Call insurance again re: windshield
Call insurance re: refund from 1/31/12 obgyn appointment
Make Little Guy's dentist appt.
Get mail from next door neighbor
Return library books
Plan next week's homescool stuff
Figure out Girl Scout dues
Send Girl Scout cookie buying link to potential customers
?Rearrange kid rooms?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Homemade Christmas

This year we decided that the kids should make gifts for the family (except they re-gifted old baby toys to Mystery Baby, and he got to buy them stuff).  It seems like it really helped them focus on giving this year rather than everything they wanted to get.  

Here's the gift round-up:

To Mom From Buddy - Recipe Card Holder (via Cub Scout handbook)

To Mom From Princess Sparkley - pin cushion for the arm of my sewing machine (from here)

To Dad From Buddy - He framed a tatted snowflake made by Jed's great grandma.

To Jed From Mystery Baby - we added the mustache and "My Stache" vinyl to his money jar.

To Dad From Little Guy - a map showing where all our loved ones live.

To Little Guy From Princess Sparkley

To Princess Sparkley From Little Guy and To Mom From Little Guy - hair ties (idea here, purchases supplies here)

To Little Guy From Buddy 

We bought an $8 hooded sweatshirt at Kohl, 1/8 of a yard of orange flannel and some interfacing. and then using this tutorial, cut, sewed and ironed triangles onto the sweatshirt to look like a dinosaur.
To Princess Sparkley From Buddy - bobby pins painted with nail polish (idea here)

To Buddy From Princess Sparkley - pillowcase

To Buddy From Little Guy - Lego head (out of a baby food jar) pencil holder (idea here)

To Dad From Princess Sparkley - A map curtain for his office window
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