Sunday, May 31, 2009

A******* Family Tradition

I've written about this before, but I like it so much I'm going to write about it again now and then. We have waffles for Sunday dinner almost every week. Tonight's waffles were whole wheat and they were light brown, tasty, and delicious. I served them with maple syrup and chopped walnuts. They were outstanding.

We just might have a house

Saturday we put in an offer on a house and Sunday it was accepted. The sellers are highly motivated to move out and we as the buyers are highly motivated to move in. Good combination, don't you think? We have only about four weeks to make this happen without having to move our household goods into storage first, so cross your fingers for us.

The house is lacking a couple of things we were trying to get, namely a bit of acreage and a top-notch school for the girls. It is in a normal neighborhood, so we are right next to the neighbors on either side and the school is rated a 7 out of 10. Not the 8, 9, or 10 we were hoping for, but not bad.

The things it does have are 4 bedrooms along with both a living room and a family room. It also has a swimming pool and what dh calls a "pool house" which is a small bedroom with a bathroom that opens onto the pool area. It's attached to the back of the carport. I can see a certain 17 year old boy having it for his bedroom this summer.

Dh has his work cut out for him now--he's going to push everything through just as fast as he can!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I love my shredder

I was looking for some papers in my filing cabinet and came across a thick file. Not the papers I was looking for, but some I was happy to dispose of. It was more than a year's worth of old bank statements and the paper checks that were returned with them. I've been good about saving such things for seven years and then ditching them, and I was surprised to see these had postmarks around 2001. I fired up the ol' shredder and made myself a little space amongst the files. :-)

Friday, May 29, 2009

The end of the school year came again

The last week of school was a blast for the girls. C & E had a field day, a pajama day, a board game day, and lots of cleaning interspersed with movies and giveaways (also known as teachers thinning out their collections).

S had a pizza day, an ice cream day, and a pajama day and she goes only three mornings a week! I must say I shed nary a tear at being done, done, DONE with preschool. I've loved the preschool all three girls attended, it is a five-minute walk from the house, the tuition was reasonable, the teachers warm and caring but . . . after four straight years of being on the board and the constant worries about money and the fundraising that went along with it, trying to come up with good snacks when those obligatory days came along, and just the general hassle, I was delighted to say a warm good bye to the teachers. I brought them each a little gift, which was a batch apiece of homemade chocolate chip walnut cookie dough frozen into a large log so they can make cookies at home with their children.

For C and E's teachers I wanted something kind of consumable also because I know teachers get a lot of cutsey things. I'm sure they would have liked a gift card to some place but that would have been too obvious, right? I know E's teacher likes to garden (I know this because she's one of my friends in my ward and I've been to her house many times) so I chose some vegetable starts for her: a tomato, two kinds of peppers, and a lavender plant.

I don't know C's teacher too well but figured a pot of cheery geraniums are always welcome, so I got the supplies . . .
. . . and assembled them into something *I* would like to receive, so I assume the teacher did too.
I took the plants to school while the girls were out at the field day and put them on each girl's desk with a note so she could present her gift to her teacher.

Let summer begin!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Missing my camera

I love to take pictures of the things I'm doing every day and it's killing me not having my camera. I gave it to dh to take some pictures of this and that for me and I haven't seen it in weeks! I do have another camera here at the house but it's not as easy to use as my own.

I found out a neat trick when I went to the optometrist yesterday: if you are having age-related problems reading up close AND have a strong prescription on your glasses, you can move your glasses toward the end of your nose and it sharpens the focus on the close-up print. I know, I know, probably everyone reading this already knew this, but I didn't and it's nice to have some small advantage with this ultra-strong prescription I wear. :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Strange weather

Well, for us anyway. May is usually still cool and dry. We had several weeks of weather in the 80s, then it's rained at least part of every day for the past five days. We sure need the rain so I'm enjoying it. All the humidity is making my two curly-haired girls look like Shirley Temple!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sad news story from Korea

Korean former president Roh committed suicide on Saturday. He was in office until February 2008 and ran a campaign and a presidency that was considered to be very clean in a country where bribes and scandals in the government are common. About six weeks ago it came out that he and his wife had taken bribes to the tune of at least $6,000,000 USD while he was president.

Today he and an aide went out for a walk in the mountains near his home and he threw himself off a 100 foot cliff. He died of head trauma.

One of my students was/is a strong member of his party (she's a polititian) and I know this must have affected her badly. I know what I'll be talking to my students about tomorrow . . . .

Friday, May 22, 2009

Champagne tastes, (root) beer budget

AKA "house hunting." Ugh. I just called our future renter and asked her what she thought about pushing the move-in date back a couple of weeks. I'm kind of glad there was no answer so she can listen to her message recorder and think it over without being in the spot. It would be cheaper for them since their current place is about 2/3 the price of ours, and she doesn't think their current landlord is going to rent the place out immediately, so HER landlord might not mind.

It's all very frustrating. Dh and I have been working full-bore on finding housing in the new location, but are coming up against roadblocks every way we turn, it seems. Now we're having to try to get a construction loan for the house our offer's been accepted on simply because one bathroom is gutted and there is no stove or dishwasher. Tell me how many homes there are out there that have only one bathroom and no dishwasher and require you to bring your own stove. MILLIONS??? Of course, but this one can't get a conventional loan. So we press on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How I spent my Wednesday morning

One of the older ladies at Church is a genealogy buff and told me one of the many things she does to make information available to others is to take pictures of headstones in cemeteries, then upload the pictures and the information from them to This gal uses a walker and I figured she couldn't get around to take pictures very well, so I offered to pick her up and go to the cemetery and she could tell me where to take pictures.

I've been to this cemetery before and let me tell you: it is no easy "walk across manicured lawns, pausing to bend down and take a picture every few feet" kind of task to photograph there. It is a hard scrabble cemetery on a serious hill. The roads between each long row had been recently graded and the dirt was soft. I climbed up and down the hills and up and down the graves to get the pictures. There were many unmarked graves and ones with 35 year old funeral home markers that were almost impossible to read. There were many homemade grave markers as well. It made me sad that many families can't afford or don't choose to buy or make even a tiny headstone to mark their loved one's burial place.

This unflattering picture of me shows what happens when someone says, "Oh, just plant a bush on me and let me go back to nature." I had quite a time getting in to photograph the business side of that stone. There were a few like that.

I took about 225 pictures today and I was beat! It was getting hot and I'm, ahem, not accustomed to all the climbing and crouching I did today. I hope to get back at least one more time with my friend before we move.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dh was a busy guy!

Dh and I want to make sure our house is in as good a condition as possible when we rent it out. We want to put off the "The xxx broke, who do you want us to call?" calls as for as long as possible after we leave.

Yesterday dh:

1. repaired two gutter sections so they won't leak
2. changed an outdoor faucet so a hose will connect to it (poured a concrete patio under it last summer and then the faucet was too low to the ground)
3. unwinterized the swamp cooler
4. helped me clean up the collosal mess we always get from turning on the swamp cooler for the first time--mineral dust in the extreme
5. replaced the bathtub faucet
6. supervised some day laborers who worked on the backyard

I'm very pleased with all the progress. Next Saturday will involve Spackle and paint.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Easy, interesting breakfast casserole

Last Saturday my daughters and I attended a Mother's Day brunch at Church. My friend brought a delicious egg casserole I'd never tried and she said she made it up because she was trying to use up the bounty of eggs their chickens are laying. I made it this morning for my girls and here it is:

Egg/Tortilla Casserole

Corn tortillas (about 6)
Cheese (a couple handfuls)
Green chili peppers (I used canned ones--1/2 of a 4 oz. can)
Milk (1+ cup)
Eggs (I used 5)

This varies according to how big your pan is, but these are the amounts I used for an 8x8 pan. Layer tortillas mostly whole, but tear up a couple for the corners with cheese and chilis twice. Wisk the milk, eggs, and salt together and pour over the tortillas in the pan. I put mine in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning, but I think it is fine to bake immediately.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

This makes a very easy, tasty casserole that is a little different from the usual ones people make.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This is why I don't spend much on toys

E just said to me, "Mom, I'm having fun making things!" I'll take that over plastic toys any day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A peek at my office

Yesterday I posted about my collosal mess of an office. I started working on it last night and finished this afternoon and it looks a lot better. It is certainly not an office from House Beautiful, but it works and it is a lot cleaner and I feel a lot better. First the lovely before pictures:

And now the new and improved version (at least until C & E get home):

There. Don't you feel better too?

First Grade Proverbs

E's first grade teacher sent home a sheet that says:
Several years ago, there was a first grade teacher who gave her students the first half of famous proverbs, and asked them to finish the quotes. Her results were hilarious. They have been circulating around in email for quite some time. You may have even received them in your inbox a time or two. Out of curiousity, I decided to give my first graders that same task. Here are some of their proverbs:

Here are E's:

Strike when the . . . guy is not looking.
Don't put all your eggs . . . in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Junior Prom

This picture is just too darn cute not to post here (after I lifted it from Facebook). Kevin is the one on the right and I have no idea who the other guys are. Friends, I assume. I should probably have blanked out their faces but . . . oh well. :-) One thing I appreciated in the picture of them with their dates is that all the girls had nice outfits on and all of them were modest. Very, very nice. I'll bet they had a great time.

Took some pictures

. . . but I'm not going to post them! I figured out if I put in the batteries and hold the door juuuuuust right, I can power up the ol' camera and snap a few shots. However, the subject this time was the atomic waste area that some might call my office. Dh and I have a lot of paperwork going at all times and when you add in three daughters to do homework and play in the office, it is a disaster. Unbelievably so. I'm overwhelmed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Camera door is broken

I won't even say who, but a little girl presented me with a pink camera with a broken battery/disc door today. Duct tape would work, but I have to take the disc out to download pictures so I'd be opening the tape and the door very often. How annoying.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Flea market and carnival

We'll be leaving our town soon and I realized I haven't brought any local jewelry for myself. I've bought it for others, but nothing for me. The best place to get such things is at the Saturday flea market. After the Mother's Day brunch at church for the girls and me, and the library program at the children's library for the girls, we went to the flea market. I couldn't believe how far out the cars were parked on the side of the road! Turned out there was a carnival going on in the narrow field across from the market. It was a good one, too, with a Tilt-A-Whirl, Egg Scrambler, good-sized Ferris Wheel, a Zipper, a huge slide, about five kiddie rides, and a lot more for adults, including trailers with various fried foods and carnival games like a quarter toss. We didn't plan to spend any money there, but it was fun to walk through it. I'd imagine it is hopping right now as it's after 8 pm.

The flea market was packed. The only booths missing were most of the ones selling pirated videos and games. One was there. The rest got scared off last week when they arrested several of the vendors. I was surprised to see the one this week. I looked at lots of jewelry but although the girls behaved very well, it was really hard to concentrate on finding something while worrying one of them might wander. I didn't end up with any this time. I did find an inexpensive sun hat. I've been looking for one for a year or so and this one fit the bill. I really need to keep my face out of the sun a little more.

I also bought some toiletry kinds of items at a booth I'd never seen before. Everything was a dollar and almost everything appeared to be brand name items that were store returns or some kind of remaindered product. Most packages were a little beat up, but they looked to be sealed. I got several items that caught my eye.

I always buy a soda at the market, so when I found a booth selling them for fifty cents I got us each one. I resisted buying some fry bread because although the girls would have been the ones ingesting all that fat, it just seemed like a mess for them. Plus all the stands selling them had a line.

It was a fun day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sweet S

Too bad this photo turned out a bit fuzzy because S was thrilled to death with herself this morning and wanted me to take her picture. Her preschool class went to a gymnasium for a session today and to lunch at Taco Bell and she was really excited about it. She is full of four year old joy these days!

Her outfit should look familiar to the younger of my two brothers as both the top and bottom were hand-me-downs from his daughters.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thomas Sowell

Every month or two my mom sends me an envelope full of articles, cartoons, and recipes she cuts out of various newspapers, magazines, and flyers she reads. I really like to receive the package because all the articles are chosen for dh or me specifically.

In her most recent pack there was an article by Thomas Sowell that I particularly liked. As one who is house hunting, I can appreciate what he is saying. One house we put an offer in on was purchased in March 2007 for $400,000. The asking price in April 2009? $250,000. We offered less and didn't get it, but you can bet there is no way possible we could have even considered it two years ago.

Here's the article:

Subsidizing bad decisions
By Thomas Sowell

Now that the federal government has decided to bail out homeowners in trouble, with mortgage loans up to $729,000, that raises some questions that ought to be asked, but are seldom being asked.

Since the average American never took out a mortgage loan as big as seven hundred grand— for the very good reason that he could not afford it— why should he be forced as a taxpayer to subsidize someone else who apparently couldn't afford it either, but who got in over his head anyway?

Why should taxpayers who live in apartments, perhaps because they did not feel that they could afford to buy a house, be forced to subsidize other people who could not afford to buy a house, but who went ahead and bought one anyway?

We hear a lot of talk in some quarters about how any one of us could be in the same financial trouble that many homeowners are in if we lost our job or had some other misfortune. The pat phrase is that we are all just a few paydays away from being in the same predicament.

Another way of saying the same thing is that some people live high enough on the hog that any of the common misfortunes of life can ruin them.
Who hasn't been out of work at some time or other, or had an illness or accident that created unexpected expenses? The old and trite notion of "saving for a rainy day" is old and trite precisely because this has been a common experience for a very long time.

What is new is the current notion of indulging people who refused to save for a rainy day or to live within their means. In politics, it is called "compassion"— which comes in both the standard liberal version and "compassionate conservatism."
The one person toward whom there is no compassion is the taxpayer.

The current political stampede to stop mortgage foreclosures proceeds as if foreclosures are just something that strikes people like a bolt of lightning from the blue— and as if the people facing foreclosures are the only people that matter.
What if the foreclosures are not stopped?

Will millions of homes just sit empty? Or will new people move into those homes, now selling for lower prices— prices perhaps more within the means of the new occupants?

The same politicians who have been talking about a need for "affordable housing" for years are now suddenly alarmed that home prices are falling. How can housing become more affordable unless prices fall?

The political meaning of "affordable housing" is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit. Affordable housing produced by market forces provides no benefit to politicians and has no attraction for them.

Study after study, not only here but in other countries, show that the most affordable housing is where there has been the least government interference with the market— contrary to rhetoric.

When new occupants of foreclosed housing find it more affordable, will the previous occupants all become homeless? Or are they more likely to move into homes or apartments that they can afford? They will of course be sadder— but perhaps wiser as well.

The old and trite phrase "sadder but wiser" is old and trite for the same reason that "saving for a rainy day" is old and trite. It reflects an all too common human experience.

Even in an era of much-ballyhooed "change," the government cannot eliminate sadness. What it can do is transfer that sadness from those who made risky and unwise decisions to the taxpayers who had nothing to do with their decisions.
Worse, the subsidizing of bad decisions destroys one of the most effective sources of better decisions— namely, paying the consequences of bad decisions.

In the wake of the housing debacle in California, more people are buying less expensive homes, making bigger down payments, and staying away from "creative" and risky financing. It is amazing how fast people learn when they are not insulated from the consequences of their decisions.

A few pictures from Albuquerque

Holly got married in Albuquerque and after the wedding we took Kevin and toured Old Albuquerque. We were lucky and in addition to the normal charm of the old part, it was also Albuquerque's annual birthday party (funny how those birthdays come around annually, huh?) so there was music and dancing and displays and booths. Afterward we headed back to the car and came across these statues. I have a funny family, don't I?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

House hunting

The girls had a week of spring break last week so we took a trip to dh's new city to check it out and look around for a house to buy/rent/etc. If you want to know where we are going, email me or leave a note here and if I know you and you aren't AEM, I'll send you an email.

Anyway, the new city is huge compared to our current village. There is lots to choose from when it comes to housing, but we have the proverbial problem of having champagne tastes on a beer budget. We want the best public schools for our daughters, but those schools tend to be in the expensive areas, and our budget is only average. We put in a couple offers to no avail. When I left on Saturday afternoon there was nothing in the works. However, over Sunday dh was busy online and the real estate agent pulled up a few things Monday.

Dh went to look at some places tonight and one of them is very workable so he was going to call the agent as soon as we got off the phone together to have her make the offer tomorrow morning. He left her with signed papers so all she has to do is write in the amount and present it. This place is "Santa Fe" in the extreme, with some . . . "interesting" paint choices. It would need lots of paint everywhere and new floor coverings upstairs and the removal of a bit of the Santa Fe kitsch, but it could work. That's all I'm going to say or think about it though, because I don't want to get attached to it quite yet.

We joined the zoo while we were there. Fifty dollars gets us in for a year, plus gets us in or at least a discount at lots of other zoos, should we happen to do any traveling. We went twice during the time we were there. I thought the girls would be bored going twice in three days but we actually spent more time the second time we went. It's a nice, smaller zoo. Very clean, too.

I believe our moving date will be sometime in June. A lot has to happen between now and then, but I'm looking forward to our next adventure.

Update on Kaela

In February I wrote about Kaela, my friend's seven year old granddaughter who has a cancerous tumor in her leg. She has continued treatment and is having a hard, hard go of it. Part of the planned treatment has been to amputate her leg. The tumor is just below the knee. However, an interesting treatment has become available to her. There is cadaver bone available and next week she will have bone replacement surgery. It has been tried before with success. Her family would appreciate prayers for Kaela and her mother, along with prayers for the medical staff treating her.

Betcha didn't know . . .

In the "Bet you didn't know this" category:

Spilled Wallflower oil (see post below) takes off paint.

More later--I've been gone for a week and today's gonna be a busy one.