Sunday, March 31, 2013

Little Christmas dress

Before Christmas I found a fabric panel on the sharing table that, cut up and sewn, made a long-eared bunny and a ruffly dress.
I knew Elizabeth was interested in sewing dolls because she had made her own a few months before, so I picked it up and took it home.  I added the lace, ribbons, stuffing, and other findings and wrapped it up for her for a Christmas gift.

After Christmas she helped me make the rabbit and dress.  Caroline quickly figured out the dress is the same size as the Build A Bear Workshop animals, so she dressed her Cuddles in the dress.  Here's Cuddles in the new dress.

Meal Plan Sunday

Sunday:  ham, asparagus, Crash Hot Potatoes, easy carrot cake, hard boiled egg chocolate chip cookies

Monday:  Macaroni and cheese, pork chops

Tuesday:  Chicken enchiladas, refried beans



Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, March 30, 2013

News of an engagement!

My brother is engaged!  He and his intended came for a visit this weekend.
Her ring is very pretty!  And most importantly, she was kind and thoughtful to all of us and she really loves my brother.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Highly annoyed with the orthodontist

See this picture outside our new favorite Mexican bakery?
Guess how long after we passed through the border it was taken?  It was about 15 minutes later, and it takes about 10-12 to walk to the orthodontist's office.  Yes, we arrived for our appointment and found the office closed.  A man selling juice came over and told me they were closed all week for the Easter holiday.

Reconcile that with this, if you can:
And here is the line at the border after we'd waited about 15 minutes.  It goes about another 40 feet farther than you can see after the line turns left.
It took 45 minutes to pass through the border.

The good part was we did go to the bakery and buy some delicious Mexican pastries in the orthdontist town and on the way back into our city we stopped at a grocery store that caters to Mexican-Americans.  The produce prices are very cheap and they have some Mexican products I like to buy.  It's totally on the other side of town near the freeway though, so I usually go there only when I'm coming back from the orthodontist and am not in a hurry.

I'm preparing a letter for the orthodontic office requesting remuneration for their missed visit.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why I shouldn't watch House Hunters International

Bill, David, and I watched an episode of House Hunters International that took place in Rome, Italy.
Now we want to go to Rome.
Don't watch that show.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Does your visiting teaching take place at the zoo?

Three busy moms + one Easter vacation + the end of the month = a visiting teaching trip to the zoo. 
Lisa and I are responsible to visit Amber at least once a month to make sure she is doing all right and to see if she needs help with anything. We typically also have a short Church-related message for her as well.
We had 8 of our combined 10 at-home children with us today, ranging in age from 1 to 10.
I had never seen this roll up door open so we could see into this part of the elephant area.  The very large bull elephant on the other side stayed right up next to the "training wall" and explored the back side of the lock plates with his trunk, put the nub of his tusk into one of the little openings, and look and looked at the people watching him.  He seemed as interested in us as we were in him.
I look forward to summer visiting teaching when we typically have all the kids swimming in my pool, or visit a park, or do some other kind of activity together.  I hear about women visit teaching the same ladies for 25 years or more.  I'd sure love to grow old with these ladies. :-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Art: two ways

My twins like to create art in different ways. 

Elizabeth likes to play the violin.  Her skills are still in the very basic phase, but she can play things on a violin I certainly can't!  She bought a Kindle Fire in January and loves to use some of the art apps.  Here is a picture she drew on it for me tonight:
Caroline seems driven to write and illustrate.  Penguins are her current passion and I had her choose her favorite page out of the comic book she is writing to share:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Muesli for breakfast

A trip to Costco yielded most of the ingredients of my current favorite cereal, muesli.

Into a bowl place:

1/4 to 1/2 cup dry rolled oats  (I prefer the regular kind, not quick.)
anything else you would like, such as dark chocolate chips :-)

Cut up the fruit.
Mix it all together.
Pour on some milk.  I prefer it relatively non-soggy, but it's also good when it has softened and is a little more like cooked oatmeal.  You can also mix it with yogurt if you like a thick cereal.

You can use any kind of fruit, either fresh or dried, and if you like things a little sweeter, drizzle on some honey. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My thoughts on the geographical realignment of my ward's boundaries

For those readers who are not LDS (Mormon), here is some information so you'll understand this post.  A Mormon congregation is called a "ward."  Mormons are divided into wards of about 400-600 church members based on geography.  They are expected to attend their assigned ward and not pick and choose what time they want to go to church based on convenience or other factors.

Sometimes a ward gets too many or too few members due to people moving in and out, new homes being built, conversions to the faith, and so forth.  After careful consideration, the leaders in the area may decide to redraw the ward boundaries, along with the boundaries of neighboring wards in order to rebalance the wards in the area.  This happened in my area two weeks ago.

My huge ward was cut in half.  Due to changes in other wards, my Sunday meeting location was moved about 5 miles in the opposite direction from my old church building, and the meeting time was changed from 9 am to 1 pm.  Most of the people I knew well happened to be in my half of the ward, but some of my dear friends are now in another ward, which means I don't see them every week at church and at other activities.

In addition, the new meeting time doesn't mesh well with my work schedule, which includes Sunday afternoons.  Because of that I had to be released from my calling to work in the children's program, although I am able to attend sacrament meeting which is the main worship.  In addition, I still serve the girls by leading their activity day every two weeks.

The other good things about the new changes are that although the church building is a mile farther from my house, there are fewer traffic signals and it doesn't take any longer to get to the new meeting place than the old one.  In addition, the new chapel is really big and there is plenty of room for everyone.  Our old chapel was small and the congregation large, so sometimes there was a bit of jockeying for a seat!  Another change is that the percentage of families who live in single family homes has increased, which means a more stable ward family, although we still have some apartments which mostly bring new and interesting young couples, to our ward.

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Burrito Grande [from the freezer]

Tuesday:  Waffles with all the toppings (missionaries here for dinnera)

Wednesday:  Black beans with mango and cilantro over rice


Friday:  pizza and root beer

Saturday, March 23, 2013

David and the girls' day out

This morning David asked if he could take the girls out on an adventure.  Of course!  I suggested taking them down a main street here in the city until it dead ended at a natural desert area.  It's lightly developed with some rough paths and a few signs, and it's quite a good hike.

He and I packed some delicious fresh bread, trail mix, fruit, and drinks and off they went.  On the way back they stopped at a park and he snapped this picture of the girls there:
And here is my usual final question:  aren't they cute?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Skating and friends

About three times a year the elementary school has a skating party at a local rink.  Last night Sophia and Caroline decided to go.  The older they've gotten, the more they enjoy it.  No more "We've been here an hour, can we go home now?" kind of stuff I used to get!  They both skated and played hard the whole two hours.

This is Sophia and the famous Kiera.  They met in Kindergarten and have been in the same class three out of their four years of school.  This picture is a little distorted--Kiera doesn't have a huge head! 
Aren't they cute?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dr. Travis Stork says the average cold lasts 7 days . . .

. . . and I say, "In my dreams."

I've had a cold since the beginning of February.  It changed toward the end of  February and I think it went from cold #1 to cold #2 then.  I was 95% better about ten days ago when a sore throat, coughing, and suspicious ear pain started.  Maybe I can make it last a whole two months?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I was talking to one of my students today about the things we love about spring.  One of my favorites is the bloom of the ocotillos in the area. 
They typically bloom in May.  Aren't they pretty?
Last year for Mother's Day I was given my very own ocotillo, but despite tearing it out and trying again with another ocotillo, neither one lived.  I think they were dead when I got them, although with ocotillos it's a bit hard to tell . . . .  However, I'll probably try again, but buy it from a different nursery.  I really love them!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Proctor and Gamble sample program

Today I received a box in the mail.  I thought it would have a couple of samples and some coupons.
I remember filling out a request online a few weeks ago, telling them the samples and coupons I'd be interested in receiving. 

Look what I got!
3 laundry products, toothpaste, and hair products, along with a booklet full of great coupons.

I'm not being paid to promote this program, but check out and register for the next time P&G has a giveaway.

Cute letter to a chicken

Sophia brought this home a week or so ago.  It was probably done as a Valentine's day assignment, but being a third grader, she wrote her love letter to her chicken.
Awww . . . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

Early back-to-school

The first week of school always involves a LOT of paperwork because I have three children for whom I fill out school forms.  I don't really mind, because I have wanted to be a mother to school children for a long time.  However, there is a bit of hand-cramping involved.

The older girls are moving on to the middle school next year and the elementary school is getting them ready.  They had a visit from the middle school principal today, telling them all the exciting activities they can expect next year (I already have a request to play on the school soccer team next year).
Hallelujiah, the school is letting the parents get a jump on all the paperwork as well.  Registration, emergency cards (hi, Amber!), medical forms, and more.  DONE.  The beginning of next school year should see me filling out just Sophia's forms.  :-)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Unexpected dinner out

I was nearly home on the bus yesterday when Carolyn called and told me her parents were in town and did Bill and I want to get together with them for dinner?  Of course we did.  We didn't make it to Sweet Tomatoes until 8 pm, so we stayed almost until closing time.
Lots of chat, catching up, and laughing.  That's Bill's sister on the right.  It was great to see them.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One of my favorite annual trips

. . . is to the LDS temple in Mesa, Arizona with the stake Relief Society ladies.
taken from the door of the bus as we were leaving
Once a year our stake (a group of 7 wards (congregations)) charters a couple of buses and all the women are invited to come to the temple.  There are usually about 90 women, which means only a few take advantage of the event, but it is a wonderful one.
Women can go inside the temple to perform sacred ordinances or they can go to the visitors' center and watch movies, look at displays, and enjoy the beautiful temple grounds.
I sat next to a good friend who will be in a new ward starting tomorrow (geographical boundary changes) and we chatted most of the 2 hours there and back.  We nibbled on the bag breakfast that was provided and watched a movie on the bus. 
Excellent day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's day party at Activity Day

About twice a year I plan a "round robin" activity day party for the girls and theme it toward whatever holiday is coming up.  The basics are always the same and the girls always like it a lot.

I made four stations around the house:

Don't Eat Patrick (Pete):

A reading station if they finished an activity early:
A station for writing letters to our ward's missionaries:
And last of all, a snack station:
The thicker frosting was minty and the thinner was just buttercream.

Our group is small enough that we all went together to each station except for the letter-writing station.  Then some of the girls read while the others wrote.

I love this kind of activity because it's really easy for me to set up and the girls like it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nice winter temperature

I read that as 91.5F.
Yee haw!!!

P.S.  Can you see me?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Catholics have a new pope

I'm not Catholic, but 1/4 of the world's population is, so the election of a new pope is very important.  Today we have a new pope, Pope Francis.  Congratulations to the Catholic church as I think they have chosen a fine man to lead them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


My 5th graders are learning about William Shakespeare this month and Elizabeth decided to make herself a Juliette costume.
This headband was some lace with pre-sewn ribbon rosettes on  it.
She found a pretty costume dress to add to it.  I hear David is to be Romeo. :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013

One of my favorite kinds of photos (lifted from another site)

I'm fresh out of pictures and ideas, so I started looking at cute pet pictures.  I've seen several variations of this picture and they always crack me up.
"I wasn't in the trash.  I promise."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Slow cooker Polynesian pork ribs, rice

Tuesday:  Burrito Grande, rice from last night

Wednesday: Cuban flank steak, rice

Thursday:  Relief Society birthday dinner for the ladies, leftovers for the girls and guys

Friday:  Pizza

Surprise meeting at the book fair

The girls and I were in the children's section, walking in a quiet area past the author tables when we looked down at the table and saw a sign that said MARGARET PETERSON HADDIX.


She wrote my favorite book I read to my fourth grade students a decade ago, Running Out of Time, and a thought-provoking one I didn't read to them called, Among The Hidden (a little too disturbing for fourth graders, I thought, plus I wanted them to hear a variety of genres and authors).

Caroline and Elizabeth just finished reading Running Out Of Time in their fifth grade class and really enjoyed reading it.  Their teacher integrated the book into the class's curriculum, so they both know the book quite well.

Caroline and Mrs. Haddix happily posed for this picture.
Aren't they cute?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Festival of Books

Today was the annual Festival of Books.  We always head for the children's section as soon as we get there and look what we found:
The girls could read to a dog.  Isn't that sweet?  Sophia chose a book immediately and got started.
Caroline read a book to the brown dog.  Notice everyone is wearing a jacket or hoodie?  Usually we get a sunburn at this event, but today's weather was quite cool and it sprinkled off and on.  Elizabeth didn't actually need to have her hood up, but I'm sure it felt cozy.

We stopped by to see the Chik Fil A cow.  We love eating at Chick Fil A although it's a ways away and we don't make it there often.

We were generally headed toward the car when I saw the science section that we had skipped on our way to the children's section.  Last year was the first year for that, I think, and we really liked it.  This year was the same.  We got to see a real human brain and even touch it through some plastic wrap.  We saw ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.  We learned about weather.  We mixed up some hand sanitizer gel.  The guy said it was 5 cents of materials--that's all!
Last of all we stopped by the rock and mineral museum on campus.  My girls played with the interactive displays while I looked at the stunning rocks and minerals on display.  Last of all, Caroline scaled the climbing wall.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tiny little organizing job

I love coupons.  I love to match coupons with sales and get rock-bottom prices.  I *don't* love the organization of my coupon inserts.  Here they are stacked in among my books on the office bookcase.  I stack them by the quarter with dates written on the front so I can easily access them.  Easy to use, but hard on the eyes.
My $1 Target find.  A magazine holder made of sturdy cardboard.
Here are the previous two quarters of coupon inserts.  Ignore that dust, okay?  Doesn't that look a lot better?  They are still nearby, but look so much better.
Here is my current quarter.  I decided to leave them facing out because I get into them frequently.  Or maybe I'll just learn to pull them in and out and put them pretty side out anyway.
Progress is progress!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's a good thing I love my missionary!

That would be my son Kevin who is serving an LDS mission in Brazil right now.  He has a birthday coming up and put in his request for a few items.
A month or so ago the letter postage rates went up about 5%, from $1.05 to $1.10 for international mail from the United States, so based on that, I figured the $16.95 I paid to send a "small flat rate box" at Christmas time would probably run me a dollar or maybe two dollars more this time.  I want to point out his box is just a little bigger than a VHS video box.  It's not a big box you can put a pair of shoes in.  Imagine my surprise when THIS amount is what showed up on the computer screen!
I paid it anyway because I wanted to get those things to Kevin for his birthday.  And because he's coming home in just over 6 months this is the last package I'll send.  So Kevin, take a look at the list in the first picture and you can see what is in the box.  Oh, now that I look at it, I see I forgot to list a small extra item you'll like.  It's green.

The only thing that made me happy at the post office today was finding out there are now international "forever" stamps and they are ROUND!!  I've never seen a round American stamp before.  It's not just the printing that's circular, the stamp you peel off the backing is also circular.  Very cool.