"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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lazy Runner

I am not a runner. But if I'm going to do any form of exercise to be fit, running would be my first choice. The year before we moved to China we joined our neighborhood YMCA and with an indoor track, I could run year round. I was working up to running a 5K, which I never ran, but I could run/walk most of the 5K distance and I could run a mile straight without stopping/walking. This was a huge accomplishment. Every Friday in high school PE we ran laps and I'm pretty sure I never ran any part of one lap.
Then we moved to China. The air was bad. The weather was either hot and humid or cold and frigid. There was a track, but we lived on the campus and as foreigners, everyone would have known I was the loser who couldn't run. So I never got around to running. Fast forward two years and I go for a mile run with my 12 year old because he needs to record times and show improvement for a Boy Scout requirement. Ugh... all that work 3 years ago is wasted. I just ran like a 12 minute mile and my body is never going to recover! And now I have to work back up to running a mile without stopping. And being able to walk/run a 5K.

And I really need to because on top of being totally out of shape, returning to America has also been really bad for my weight. Before leaving China, I got really sick... like lost 8 lbs in a week sick. Yay for being skinny. It was the lowest my weight has been in years! Except then I returned to America and all the glorious foods here (dairy products alone!) and quickly gained that 8 lbs and an accompanying 8 or 9 more. This might not seem like much, and I'm not trying to be inconsiderate to people with real weight concerns... but this is the most I've ever weighed (non-pregnant) in my life! Everyone can relate to that right, no matter what the number is.

So I went from eating healthy meals but lots of treats and running 3 miles most days, to eating... in China, and never running, but walking a ton, to a pretty sedentary lifestyle. But I'm in Florida... I should be able to run outside all winter. Right?

So running and yoga... this is my new life and I need to accept it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

I find it hugely amusing that 21 years ago, I was working myself up into a feminist frenzy over the youth activity at church for the young women. We were learning how to make pies. I don't know if a leader actually said, "so we could find a husband" or if a sweet leader just jokingly said, "boys like girls who know how to cook" or something of the sort to try to convince us teenage girls to show up. No matter what she said, I refused to attend that activity. Why should I learn to make pies to impress a boy!?!

Yet just a couple years later, as a college student, I did just that (but not with pies). I loved baking. I made cookies and brownies galore. None necessarily for boys, but I'm sure they were there and I wasn't *not* trying to charm them with my baking. I know for a fact a specifically made a cheesecake for a boy I was dating because he begged me to once he found out I could. And I probably wanted to impress him. And I know I made cinnamon rolls hoping to win the attention of some of the boys who lived in the house next door to mine.

What happened to that feminist teenager?!

She wasn't really a feminist. At least not in the modern sense of the word. Maybe back then, 1995/6, she was a little bit of a feminist. But somewhere along the line she realized that the modern definition of feminism is not that same as being feminine and having pride in it. And that's what she is. Proud that being female ISN'T the same as being male. It is uniquely different. I am uniquely different. That doesn't mean I'm less. That means what it mean... different but equal.

So now, I found myself a couple decades later teamed up with my 14 year old daughter learning to make pies for a project in the same youth program. A project I suggested to her and she embraced with enthusiasm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On Writing

I used to have so many ideas for stories, but as life, adulthood, parenting, family, etc. have all gotten in the way, even when I have an idea, I don't have time to flesh out the idea. I realized something this week. I was a horrible student (well, I knew that). But it was when I was a student that I had time (or used the time) to daydream the stories I would write. I'd sit in class or church or wherever I was, and daydream about the idea I had, and when I got a chance, write it down. I don't have time to daydream anymore! I'm a responsible adult, so even when I'm in a boring meeting, I realize I shouldn't be daydreaming, I should be paying attention. Sometimes I conscientiously make an effort to daydream out a story idea so I can sit down and type it up, I usually end up falling asleep. I'd be horrible at meditation! I'm too sleepy a person. Maybe I need to start attending boring meetings that are unimportant so I can daydream through them... and then write.

Update: An hour after I wrote this post, I came across this interview with Neil Gaiman telling people that if they want to be a writer, they need to get bored. Obviously, he said it all better than I did, but it's sort of the same idea! http://lifehacker.com/if-you-want-to-be-a-writer-neil-gaiman-says-you-should-1788961635?utm_content=buffer2c7dc&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Monday, November 14, 2016

This should be my every day "To Do" list

Wake at 7
Breakfasts/lunch prep
scriptures and prayers
blogging (family)
blogging (finish China blog)
blogging (fun)
Blurb book
personal scripture study
help kids with various school lessons (repeat, repeat, repeat)
prep ebay sale stuff
prep garage sale stuff
unpack/organize boxes
reading with Squidgems
preschool with Squidgems
healthy dinner
fun reading
scriptures and prayers
Go to bed on time

Plus millions of other things that I'm forgetting about. And millions of other things that I'm wasting my time on instead of doing the stuff I should be doing.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back in America!!!

We're back!

The kids and I left Beijing, China on June 29 and Jed followed on July 8. We flew to California and over the month of July we visited my family cabin in Utah (California>Nevada>Arizona>Utah) and then made our way from my family in California to Jed's family in Ohio-towing a trailer (California>Arizona>New Mexico>Texas>Arkansas>Mississippi>Tennessee>Kentucky>Ohio). Then in August, Jed and I conquered seven more states in a 23 foot moving truck (Ohio>Kentucky>Tennessee>North Carolina>South Carolina>Georgia>Florida) to get to our new home in Florida!!

Then, back up to Tennessee for a family reunion with all of Jed's siblings and parents. Then back to Florida with the kids.

So... we've been a bit busy!

Unpacking. De-cluttering. Figuring out the kids homeschooling. Starting a new job (Jed). Finding our way around town and getting reintroduced to American grocery stores. We're keeping busy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Reading Update

I'm doing a horrible job reading so far this year. So far I've read three books (See How They Run- Embassy Row #2, The Happiness Project and Corrupted).

And I keep adding books to my to read list:
The Out of Sync Child
Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight
Jekyl and Hyde
The Hound of Baskervilles
War of the Worlds

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Ten Year Anniversary

The ten year anniversary of this blog came and went with no notice. I'd made a note in my calendar that I should do something to celebrate, but I never came up with anything. :(

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

To Read in 2016

Last year I did a reading challenge (similar to the one found here). I haven't decided if I'll do a similar challenge again this year but I did compile a list of all the books I'd like to try to tackle this year. Chances that I'll actually read them all are low, but it's something to aim for. (edited 11/21/16: x = read, / = started or currently reading) (edited 11/7/17: # = read in 2017)

xCorrupted by Lisa Scottoline
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
xAn Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
#Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
x The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
x Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Sherlock Holmes (The Hound of Baskervilles?) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
/ The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
/ Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguru
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
x See How They Run (Embassy Row #2) by Ally Carter
x The Chase (Fox and O'Hare #2) by Evanovich and Lee
x The Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
The Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
x Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
x Soar by Joan Bauer
x Calvin by Martine Leavitt
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Jackaby by William Ritter
#Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
/The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegel
/Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
/ Couple Skills by Kim Paleg, Matthew McKay, and Patrick Fanning
x The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
x The Big Tiny by Dee Williams

Monday, January 04, 2016

Book Review: My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington

Another beautiful, colorful book by Monica Wellington.

My mom is a retired reading specialist as well as retired Kindergarten/First Grade teacher, she's also a lover of picture books, trees and fall colors, so I asked her to read this book and tell me what she thought.

My mom loved it. The pictures are bright and beautiful. The story is of a girl out on a walk collecting leaves. The book not only teaches kids about the different types of trees and how to identify them by their leaves, but it encourages kids to get out and collect their own leaves to make their own leaf book.

As you can see by the above page provided to me by the publisher, the book sort of acts as part picture book, part reference book. The right hand page above is labeled "oak" and shows examples of oak leaves and gives the different characteristics of oak leaves. 

Growing up in California, seeing trees with leaves that change colors in the fall is rare. As an adult, I've lived in different parts of the country where the leaves change colors each fall... and I love it. I've even taken notes and drawn pictures of the leaves I love so I can remember to plant that type of tree in my yard someday. This book is a cute introduction for any budding naturalist.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Books: My Top 15 in 2015

These aren't necessarily my favorite books this year, although some are. Some were just really well written, or really made me think, others stayed with me. When I look through the list of books I read this year, these are the ones that stick out.

In no particular order:

The Martian by Andy Weir*
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce*
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr*
Emma by Jane Austen
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson*
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt*
Still Alice by Lisa Genova

*contains the f-word (in some of the books, very frequently), or other questionable topics

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Read in 2015

Coming soon... my top 15 books read this year.

In 2015 I read 26,097 pages in 85 books (and short stories).

BOOK TITLE                                                                 AUTHOR

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their… Brown, Daniel James
The Night Circus Morgenstern, Erin
The One and Only Ivan Applegate, Katherine
Casino Royale Fleming, Ian
The Westing Game (second time) Raskin, Ellen
Wonder (including The Julian Chapter) Palacio, R.J.
Pretty Little Liars (#1) Shepard, Sara
Bossypants Fey, Tina
Veronica Mars #1: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line Thomas, Rob and Graham, Jennifer
We Can Work It Out Eulberg, Elizabeth
Veronica Mars #2: Mr. Kiss and Tell Thomas, Rob and Graham, Jennifer
American Born Chinese Yang, Gene Luen
Weetzie Bat (#1) Block, Francesca Lia
Brown Girl Dreaming Woodson, Jaqueline
The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse (#6.5) Bradley, Alan
Death Coming Up the Hill Crowe, Chris
Betrayed (Rosato and DiNunzio #2) Scottoline, Lisa
The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) Simsion, Graeme
Dad is Fat Gaffigan, Jim
El Deafo Bell, Cece
A Snicker of Magic Lloyd, Natalie
I'll Give You the Sun Nelson, Jandy
All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) Carter, Ally
Etiquette and Espionage Carriger, Gail
Fangirl Rowell, Rainbow
Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare, William
The Gift of Fear de Becker, Gavin
#scandal Ockler, Sarah
The Heist Evanovich, Janet & Goldberg, Lee
Just One Night Forman, Gayle
I Was Here Forman, Gayle
Bet Me Crusie, Jennifer
Red Scarf Girl Jiang, Ji-Li
People I Want to Punch in the Throat Mann, Jen
The Kissing Booth Reekles, Beth
Emma (2nd time) Austen, Jane
Pluto: A Wonder Story Palacio, R.J.
Read Bottom Up Shah, Neel and Chatham, Skye
The Cinderella Deal Crusie, Jennifer
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (#7) Bradley, Alan
Double Fudge Brownie Murder Fluke, Joanne
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden Jonasson, Jonas
Attachments  Rowell, Rainbow
Saint Anything Dessen, Sarah
The Outsiders Hinton, S. E. 
Tell Me Bauer, Joan
Say What You Will McGovern, Cammie
The Beginning of Everything Schneider, Robyn
One Hundred Names Ahern, Cecelia
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Sloan, Robin
All the Bright Places Niven, Jennifer
Charlie All Night Crusie, Jennifer
Fish in a Tree Hunt, Mullaly Lynda
Lost on Planet China: The strange and true story… Troost, J. Maarten
The House of the Scorpion Farmer, Nancy
Still Alice Genova, Lisa
The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Keplinger, Kody
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Andrews, Jesse
Bomb: the race to build - and steal - the world's... Sheinkin, Steve
Happy Again Smith, Jennifer E.
Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11) Cabot, Meg
November 2014 Ensign magazine LDS church leaders
Ungifted Korman, Gordon
Everything I Never Told You Ng, Celeste
Dept. of Speculation Offill, Jenny
The Goldfinch Tartt, Donna
The Ransom of Red Chief Henry, O. 
The Truth According to Us Barrows, Annie
Life and Death in Shanghai Cheng, Nien
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between Smith, Jennifer E.
The Martian Weir, Andy
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot Wrede & Stevermer
Finding Audrey Kinsella, Sophie
Mudbound Jordan, Hillary
Book of Mormon Smith Jr., Joseph, translator
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids Ockler, Sarah
Before the Fall: Arrival (#0.5 Embassy Row) Carter, Ally
Mansfield Park Austen, Jane
Winesburg, Ohio Anderson, Sherwood
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Joyce, Rachel
All the Light We Cannot See Doerr, Anthony
Go Set a Watchman Lee, Harper
The Silver Star Walls, Jeannette
My True Love Gave to Me ed., Perkins, Stephanie
Wuthering Heights Bronte, Emily
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