Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm a deliberate tap dance learner

That sounds better than, "I'm a slow tap dance learner," doesn't it?  Here is a short, two measure foot routine that has stumped me!
If you peek in my office window, you'll see me practicing this routine while sitting in my chair, my feet barely touching the floor.  Once I get it in my head, putting it on the floor with tap shoes on will not be a problem!

Luckily for me this one is a little easier . . . .
Same thing with a little tap in between.
Here is a whole dance our class is learning this semester.  The woman you can mostly see in the vidoe is not really doing the dance right; look at the teacher in the front!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Caroline is on the honor roll!

The 6th grade teachers and the PTA put on a nice continental breakfast for the honorees this morning and invited parents to come along as well. 
The principal called each child up to receive a handshake, a certificate, a pencil, and a bumper sticker for the parents' car.
Do you like that Halloween ghost she has on her hairband?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Slow Cooker French Onion Soup with Cheesy Broiled French Bread


Wednesday:  Cheeseburger potato soup


Friday:  Pizza

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My sweet girl

Thursdays are the day the cleaning ladies come to make our house look sharp.  One of them came to me with a delighted smile on her face and asked if I had a minute to see something.  This is what she found on the desk next to Sophia's bed:
She is my child who put one of her vacation dollars into a tip jar in a small Utah mom-n-pop diner and another time offered some money to the men who delivered our refridgerator. 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The last daily blog post

I determined to post a picture every day in 2012, then when 2013 rolled around I realized Kevin looked at my blog every week to know what was going on at home (in addition to lots of emails, of course!) so I decided to keep going until his mission was done.

Technically he still has a couple of days, but I won't be here to update, so this is it for now.  Look for occasional updates here and there.

Below you can see what happens when airlines sell their meals for ridiculous prices.  I bring my own food!

Friday, September 20, 2013

I finally got smart about learning little tap routines in class

I'd keep thinking I'm going to practice the routines at home so I can improve faster, then I'd get home and not be able to remember exactly how they went. 

Today I took my camera to class and made a short video of the teacher dancing so I could remember what she did.  If you look at it you'll want to laugh that I couldn't remember such an easy thing, but she covers so much, it's hard to remember everything.  Plus almost everything is new to me so I don't have a frame of reference for new things. 

Here is the first video I ever uploaded to youtube:
Here is a little bit of footwork in a routine the instructor is teaching us:
The teacher is teriffic and I signed up for section II of the classes because I'm having a ball!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sharing the blog love . . . .

I found Iris's blog via a post on another blog a number of months ago.  She's a cute LDS French gal married to a cute LDS American guy living in France. 

She is a photographer and her blog is easy to read (in English AND French, if you are so inclined!) and focuses on organization, family, home, and great photographs.

You can take a look at today's post here, see her cute Parisian apartment here, and see some of her organizing ideas here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A quick email from Kevin . . .

. . . said we will stay with another of his friends in Brazil and to please bring another hostess gift.  So I pulled out my sewing machine and fabric and whipped up another pillow cover.  I corrected the mistakes I made on the first two and I'm really delighted with this one.

I used a darker color for one of the reds plus the small square in the middle and I like it.  Now I'm wishing I had used a more muted white and . . . and . . . and.  I know this will be gratefully accepted with the good wishes and gratitude I feel toward the families who have been so kind to Kevin.

Here are all three pillows:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Caroline brought a little friend home on her walk from the bus

Look at the cute little lizard she chased down and brought home:
And yes, it is now safely outdoors.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Evening treat

One of the girls told me she wanted to make chocolate fondue for dessert.  Ummm . . . why not?  We had enough interesting things to dip, along with all the ingredients for the chocolate dip.

We had big and little marshmallows, banana slices, dried apricots, and pretzel sticks.  The chocolate was a mixture of chocolate chips, sugar, and canned milk, all warmed in the microwave until smooth, then put over a tea light candle.

It was really good.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hostess gifts completed!

I have a busy first-of-the-week coming this week, then a few days of downtime (big holiday in Korea).  I was actually planning to make the pillows during those few days, but decided to just get going on them.

I did my favorite get-going mental game which was to do things in little steps.  Eating an elephant a bite at a time, you might say.  First I had to get down the box of fabric.  Then I had to look for a pattern.  Then I had to choose fabrics.  Then I had to just cut out the pieces, etc, etc. Everything I did was only one thing and then I could quit and do something else for awhile.  If I wanted to continue to the next step, that was fine too.  I do this all the time when I have a project I'd rather procrastinate doing.

However . . . I'm very happy with the outcome because they are d-o-n-e done!

They are 14" square and have an envelope opening in the back of the cover so they can be easily removed and washed.  In addition, I'm going to have Kevin write a note to each of his families inside on the back of the quilted part with a Sharpie.  That way they'll have a little special something from him, but it won't be open for just anyone to see.

If plans change and we don't give away both of the pillows I won't mind keeping one . . . . :-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making a couple of hostess gifts

When we go to Brazil we'll stay with a couple of Kevin's friends.  I want to bring gifts to the families and I know hostess gifts often reflect the native area of the giver.

I mentioned cactus jelly earlier, along with some quilting, and settled on the quilting.  Here is a hint of the pillow covers I'm making:
Red, white, and blue figure prominently as well, so you may guess I changed the colors from the directions I'm following.

Both quilt blocks are underway and I'll post more when I have more to show.

Oh, and Kevin requested I bring jars of peanut butter along.  I guess certain Brazilians appreciate ambrosia as much as my family does.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

D.C. Club

At my girls' school there is a 6th grade club that leads to a great trip.  In June they'll go to Washington D. C.!  For the entire school year before that, they learn all about our country's history and about the interesting things and places they'll see in Washington D. C.

At 5:34 pm I was informed there was a parent meeting at 6 o'clock tonight.  I guess I should get used to this kind of advance notice, right?

I thought there might be down time so I brought along my book club book--Cold Sassy Tree.  Didn't get a chance to even open the cover.  I used my cell phone to sign up for text messages from the parents' branch of the club.  I brought home a T-shirt order form for each girl.  (The T-shirts are very cool--the children's art is chosen and reproduced on each day's shirts and each kid gets a new one each day of the trip--makes it easy to keep track of the group of kids, plus they have a clean shirt on every day.)  The purple sheet had the agenda, full of interesting information for the parents.

It was a fast-paced and interesting meeting.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Elizabeth's dark night

This is what Elizabeth uses to sleep.  Well, not the cat costume, but the eye shade.  Caroline likes to sleep with a tiny night light and Elizabeth likes darkness.  Nice compromise, I'd say.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Something new for me to wear

Don't laugh, but this is the first pair of dressy slacks I've owned in about six years.  My weight has fluctuated and I prefer skirts, so I just haven't had a pair of slacks.
Now I have something to wear on those "wear slacks to Church" Sundays, right? ;-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spaghetti sauce and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Last month I read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School which was an eye-opening read for me.  I learned that you don't have to have mixes to make basic dinner foods.  You can use whole, fresh foods instead of packages to make almost anything.  I don't use tons of packaged foods, but I do use some.  I'm going to use fewer in the future.

Tonight I made spaghetti sauce sort-of from scratch.  I used canned tomatoes, but I did can them myself. 

1/2 lb hamburger cooked with
1/2 diced onion (the book tells how to do that easily and neatly)
1 minced garlic clove
1 quart diced tomatoes
1 pint tomato puree
Italian seasoning, all to taste

That "to taste" is kind of new to me.  You're supposed to actually get a spoon and taste the food and see if you like it.  If not, change it.  Sounds basic, but it doesn't come naturally to me.

Good spaghetti dinner tonight!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Spaghetti

Tuesday:  Mexican Breakfast Casserole

Wednesday:  Chicken Lo Mein

Thursday:   Chicken Nacho Bake


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bill's painting project

Bill's car had trim in two colors--silver and matte black.  He wanted to go to all matte black so he took things into his own hands.
That is the hard top to the convertible and you're looking at the back window.  The top of the picture has the part of the back window that rests near the trunk.  Next he painted the grille and a couple of other parts.

I really urged him not to spray paint his Mercedes, but he did anyway.  So far it looks really nice.  I told him to check back with me in a year about that.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Do you have a gate like mine?

Here in Arizona backyard fences are often constructed from concrete block, which is nice because it is very low-maintenance and looks good too.  We have only one gate in ours and it goes to the back alley. 

The old gate, which was here when we moved in, never worked right as it always dragged on the ground and was hard to open.  Impossible, for some of the girls at times.

Bill built a very nice new gate from scratch, one that glides just above the ground.  It is really a pleasure to use.  Painted gates are common in our neighborhood vs. stained wood, so he decided it need a couple coats of paint and he had to decide what color.

After the recent front door painting, we considered the same orange, but instead asked the girls what color they wanted the gate to be.  Why not?  It faces into our yard and we can repaint it any time we need to.  Pink!  Purple!  Blue! 

Bill went to the hardware store and returned looking like the cat that swallowed the canary.  He had THREE cans of paint.  Pink!  Purple!  Blue!  The blue went on the alley side of the gate and you can see the other results here:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Look what curly hair + humidity look like!

Elizabeth has really pretty, curly hair.  During the winter when it is crackling dry here, her hair sometimes borders on straight.  See how it looks during the summer rainy season!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ANOTHER passport photo!

We got our visas and really, really thought we were done with passport photos, but NO!  In order to rent a car in Brazil, you have to show your International Driving License.  You can imagine that bit of news produced a little stab of fear in me, after the visa battle.

Luckily, it turns out getting the license is easy, not expensive, and the office is actually very close to the house.  However, part of the application is a set of passport photos which Bill has in abundance.  Except we couldn't find them.

Lucikly when I took my own pictures for my visa, I blogged about it and thus I just went back, followed the links and directions there and sent Bill's picture off, to Walgreen's this time, for printing.  I'll pick them up on my way to get the license.

I think this trip is going to happen!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How did I let this get away from me?

Haha, this month it's *my* book we're reading for the book club.  We all suggested a book almost a year ago and mine was the very last in the lineup.
I took the picture from amazon.com so you can't really look inside.  I don't think so anyway. :-)

But!  The book club meeting was moved up a week and on Monday I remembered with a start that I had less than two days to get my book read!  So now I'm off to finish the remaining 2/3 of the book because I absolutely won't have time to finish it tomorrow.  Adios for now!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hostess gifts

When we travel later this month we're going to stay with friends of Kevin's in a couple of towns.  I want to bring them something that is kind of native to the United States and maybe to our area specifically. 

We live in the desert, so I've thought about bringing something like cactus jelly.
However, although I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find something like this, I'm thinking about making a pieced and quilted pillow cover for each family, and perhaps using a red-white-and-blue color theme as I did in this quilt I made last year:
That quilt is on my bed right now and I like it more with each passing day.  Anyway, I think the red-white-and-blueness of it is subtle enough to not shout UNITED STATES, yet is still American, don't you think?  I'm thinking I might make each cover the same as one of the five blocks with the small pieces, although I have to see what size pillow forms are to make it the right size.  Or I might use a different pattern.  I think I can buy the pillow forms here, then cram them into my luggage.  That will leave room when I come back for all the souvenirs, right?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The first thing I thought of this morning . . . .

. . . when I woke up was not that this is the month of my birthday, for which reason I always love September, but this is the month Kevin comes home!

In honor of that, I'm actually going to look at the pictures on his disc and choose one instead of throwing a virtual dart at the disc.
Funny boy.  I can clearly see he is in NO way touching that beautiful girl.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Alicia and Carolyn sell at the swap meet

Alicia got the great idea to sell her crafts at the local swap meet.  She brainstormed about what items with a "southwest flair" she could create in addition to her online best-sellers.  Then she asked Carolyn to sell her pot pourre sachets along with her and split the space rent.

They sold quite a few things and in addition got a feel for what people are looking for and the prices for the items that sold best.  They said they'll be back next Saturday!

Friday, August 30, 2013

I tried out a new pair of shoes today . . .

. . . and not the summer sandals I so deperately need!  Here they are:

Pretty awesome, right?

Okay, okay, there is something special about these shoes.  Here is the bottom of one:
Today was my first tap dance lesson.  I've wanted to try it most of my life and I finally did it.  I'll be doing a routine like this any time now . . . .

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Singin' in the rain!

Monsoon season is bringing us rain!  I think this year has brought at least average rain, which is really needed in our area.  Here is Elizabeth living it up in the rain!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I teach a creative student!

One of my cutest students is a little girl named Anglina.  She loves to draw pictures for me as well as doing other kinds of art.  One night she showed me some of the things she'd made recently and I promised I'd put pictures of them on my blog.
Isn't she cute?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today I was reading the Life as Mom blog and came across Jessica's suggestion to plan for after-school snacks.  I typically have three somethings waiting on the kitchen counter for the girls to eat when they get home, since I am working at that time.  That way they can help themselves right away and not have to wait for me.  Anyway, Jessica happened to post a picture of her children's snack and I realized I had everything needed to make it for the girls.
There was air-popped corn, dried apricots, and dried cranberries waiting for the girls when they got home and they ate all of it and told me it was a very good snack.  Score one for Mommy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Look at the cute things Alicia is making!!

Alicia has one of those super-creative minds I know I'll never have.  She can crochet anything she can imagine.  Then she thinks up ways to sell them.  She is active on etsy.com and now has her eye on the local swap meet where you can sell new as well as used things.

How do you think these will do here in the heart of the Southwest?

I see a coyote, a cactus with a Stetson, another coyote, a saguaro, and a final coyote.  In the second picture she is holding a chihuahua.  She made some flat crocheted creations with magnets that also include a road runner.  Love!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Clever marketing

I sent for a free sample of Finish dishwasher detergen packs and this is how it came inside the package.
The dark gray is closed-cell foam, and the rest is just CUTE!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Random Kevin picture

After that last one with the peeling . . . "something" . . . on his leg, I'm a little nervous.
This looks much nicer.  It's a chocolate tie, maybe for father's day or maybe it was for his birthday.  I'm going to assume the police badge is a toy, not that he took this picture while sitting at the police station.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to Mexico after a 5 month hiatus

The last time I went to Mexico to take Caroline to the orthodontist was March 29.  There were some problems and I didn't go back.  Then Bill and I had to send our passports away to get some travel visas, so we couldn't go to Mexico.

Our passports are now in hand, so I made Caroline an appointment for today at 4 pm so she wouldn't miss much school and also so we could see the orthodontist vs. a technician.  It's the first time we've gone so late in the day and I was surprised at how much was going on in the outdoors.
I picked up some old wax transfers last night from the sharing table at homemaking meeting.  Now I see I could have just bought some preprinted ones from this stand.  Just kidding.  I don't know what to do with "table scarves" anyway.  Or are those napkins?
It doesn't cost much to open a restaurant in this city.  Block out a parking space with your motorcycle, set up three chairs, roll your food stand out and you're in business!  His food handler's permit and business license are probably tucked under that basket.

So here is the follow-up on the linked post above.  When I made the appointment I told the receptionist I wanted to talk to the office manager and why. She said the manager would be in when we came for Caroline's appointment.  Part of what ticked me off was that I sent a letter to the office telling them why I was unhappy and what I wanted them to do about it. Crickets.  I sat down with the manager and in my skilled and practiced Spanish I told her what happened that day in March, showed her the original appointment card and my parking ticket, and had her read a new copy of the letter I'd written in early April.  Haha, just checking to see if you're really paying attention.  I'm not sure I could negotiate for a baby's lollipop in Spanish if my life depended on it.  Luckily the manager's English was very adequate and in the end she credited Caroline's account with the $100 I had asked for, along with offering a sincere apology.

I had suspected the line at the border would be challenging, and in fact Caroline and I each brought along a book to read in line.  This is what we were met with when we got there:

Those people you can see were talking to the Mexican guard, not standing in line.  The people in line were waaaaay up past where the line angles to the left.  Our total wait was about 7 minutes.

Such a good trip to the orthodontist.

A new reason to wear slippers or shoes in the house!

Last night Caroline knocked on our door.  "Dad?  There's a snake in the hall!"  Really???
You can click to read about the Night Snake and see where I found the picture above.  Thankfully, this snake is non-poisonous to humans and the one in our house was a small one, about 12".

Elizabeth had gotten up to use the bathroom and thought she saw a piece of yarn on the hall floor, then saw it moving!  She went back and told Caroline, who had the guts to run past the snake and tell us about it.  Dh threw a towel over it and tossed it outside. 

Thank goodness Bill was here.  I'm not exactly sure how I would have handled a snake in the house if he hadn't been here.  He handles ALL creepy crawly things at our house.  Oh, except for the errant mouse my mom killed with a broom. :-)

Brave Caroline. Brave Bill.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breakfast before school

Breakfast is a pretty casual and help-yourself affair most school mornings.  I used to make a simple but nutritious breakfast every morning.

Then I began working early in the morning, extending until after they leave for school some days.
I usually set out what I want them to eat, along with whatever dishes and utensils they'll need.  Today was a choice of peanut butter toast (on Emily's delicious bread) or cold cereal, both with milk.  None of the three girls is a big eater first thing in the morning, so I'm glad when they'll eat a modest breakfast.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Need a good laugh?

I was searching on the Internet for information for an assignment the girls are working on.  Somehow I came across this article:
On November 12, 1970, a 45-foot (14 m) long, 8-short-ton (7,300 kg) sperm whale beached itself at Florence, Oregon, on the central Oregon Coast.[1][2] All Oregon beaches are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department,[3] but in 1970, Oregon beaches were technically classified as state highways, so responsibility for disposing of the carcass fell upon the Oregon Highway Division (now known as the Oregon Department of Transportation, or ODOT).[4] After consulting with officials from the United States Navy, they decided that it would be best to remove the whale the same way as they would to remove a boulder. They thought burying the whale would be ineffective as it would soon be uncovered, and believed dynamite would disintegrate the whale into pieces small enough for scavengers to clear up.Thus, half a ton of dynamite was applied to the carcass. The engineer in charge of the operation, George Thornton, stated—on camera, in an interview with Portland newsman Paul Linnman—that he wasn't exactly sure how much dynamite would be needed. (Thornton later explained that he was chosen to remove the whale because the district engineer, Dale Allen, had gone hunting).[5][6]
Coincidentally, a military veteran from Springfield with explosives training, Walter Umenhofer, was at the scene scoping a potential manufacturing site for his employer.[1] Umenhofer later told The Springfield News reporter Ben Raymond Lode that he had warned Thornton that the amount of dynamite he was using was very wrong—when he first heard that 20 cases were being used he was in disbelief. He had known that 20 cases of dynamite was far too much dynamite to be used. Instead of 20 cases they needed 20 sticks of dynamite. Umenhofer said Thornton was not interested in the advice. In an odd coincidence, Umenhofer's brand-new Oldsmobile was flattened by a chunk of falling blubber after the blast. He told Lode he had just bought the Ninety-Eight Regency at Dunham Oldsmobile in Eugene, during the "Get a Whale of a Deal" promotion.[1]

The resulting explosion was caught on film by cameraman Doug Brazil for a story reported by news reporter Paul Linnman of KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon. In his voice-over, Linnman alliteratively joked that "land-lubber newsmen" became "land-blubber newsmen ... for the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds."[5] The explosion caused large pieces of blubber to land near buildings and in parking lots some distance away from the beach, one of which caused severe damage to Umenhoefer's parked car. Only some of the whale was disintegrated; most of it remained on the beach for the Oregon Highway Division workers to clear away. In his report, Linnman also noted that scavenger birds, whom it had been hoped would eat the remains of the carcass after the explosion, were all scared away by the noise.
Ending his story, Linnman noted that "It might be concluded that, should a whale ever be washed ashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they'll certainly remember what not to do." When 41 sperm whales beached nearby in 1979, state parks officials burned and buried them.[7]

Linnman's implication that the highway department had made a mistake was not subscribed to by Thornton, who later that day told Eugene Register-Guard reporter Larry Bacon that "It went just exactly right. ... Except the blast funneled a hole in the sand under the whale" (causing some of the whale chunks to be blown back toward the onlookers and their cars, he went on to say).[8]

Thornton was promoted to the Medford office several months after the incident, and served in that post until his retirement. When Linnman contacted him in the mid-1990s, the newsman said Thornton felt the operation had been an overall success and had been converted into a public-relations disaster by hostile media reports.[9]

Currently, Oregon State Parks Department policy is to bury whale carcasses where they land. If the sand is not deep enough, they are relocated to another beach.[10]

You can read the rest of the article here.

I'm sorry for the whale and all, but you have to admit this is a pretty funny story.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whay are all these things on my desk??

I work from home and sit at my desk many hours a day.  Stuff collects!  But really, why did I have these things on my desk??

suncreen in a stick
2 spools of thread
package of bias binding
measuring tape
package from the dentist sith a toothbrush and toothpaste

Elizabeth left the sewing things there, but the rest collected over time.