Friday, July 30, 2010

Linky Love--July 30

Here's some of the good stuff I found this week:

I found these toddler french toast sticks from Once a Month Mom and couldn't wait to try them. I made them yesterday and both kids like them. Yea, and they're healthy too (at least more so than the Eggo waffles I typically serve)!

Feeding Four compiled two lists of ideas for playing with kids: pretend play and crafts. I need all the ideas I can get, because I'm not a "fun mom" often enough.

Oh Amanda gathered a great list of books. I'm always on the lookout for good reads!

I don't want to lose this recipe--these soft pretzels look so yummy and making them myself means no corn syrup and maybe (please, Lord) L will like them. (Oh and I got the link from Merry.)

This recipe for chocolate pound cake looks so good!
Head on over to It's Come to This to see what others stumbled on this week. :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Question Friday--July 30

It's Thursday night, woohoo, almost the weekend! It's time once again for 5QF hosted by Mama M. When I read the questions a few minutes ago I thought: I like this meme because it makes me think about random happy things, and I think I tend to have deep, dark thoughts much of the time. Why am I such a glass-half-empty person?! Anyway, on to the Q&A.....1. Did you have a favorite blanket or toy as a kid? If so, do you still have it?
My favorite toy was my Stacy doll that I wrote about here. Yes, I still have her, though I need to unearth her from the boxes in the garage so I can share her with my daughter. I also loved my first comforter. It was a yellow and white plaid and soooo soft. My parents kept it for a long time (after my decor changed when I was 8 or so), but I don't have it and they've probably gotten rid of it by now. I also loved my Green Giant sleeping bag, I don't have that either. ;-) Oh and I did keep a smaller blanket that I believe is hand-knit, from my grandmother but I don't think she did the knitting, that's always been a favorite.

2. Do you dream in color?
I have dreamt in both black and white and color, but I'd say color is my norm.

3. How tall are you? Do you wish you were shorter or taller?
I am 5'7. When I was a kid and we'd always watch beauty pageants, it seemed like all the contestants were 5'7 so I announced I wanted to be 5'7. {I believe these days contestants tend to be taller than that, tho' I haven't watched one in years. Because I don't support the objectification of women. 'Nuff said.} But by the time I grew to be 5'7, I had realized that boys don't like to date taller girls--and it always seemed like I liked the cute short boys. Anyway, while I've often disliked my height, now that I've put on weight since having two kids, I realize that having a tall frame helps me elongate the fat, so that's good right? And my husband is 6', so the whole short boy thing didn't turn out to be a problem. :-)

4. If you could have anyone's (celeb or other) voice as the guide on your GPS, who would it be?
Ooh, James Earl Jones. That's be pretty stinkin' cool.

5. Do you return your shopping cart to the corral or leave it wherever in the parking lot?
Since having kids, I try to return it to the corral when I'm able, because I know that sometimes it's just not possible and I just have to leave it wherever. Also, I generally like to park near the cart return--so I can grab a cart on the way in (if I want to put my daughter in it) and leave it on the way out. But again, that's not always possible. So I do my best.

For more Q&As, visit Mama M's place. Have a great weekend!

MPT8--Sixth Grade

This is the eighth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 7, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Sixth Grade.

For Sixth Grade, I had Miss Gable, a middle-aged woman, as my teacher. She was more stern and somber than past teachers, but she was also kind and I liked her.

What I remember about 6th grade:

-You know how in elementary school you have one teacher all day (except for gym and art or whatever) and then in junior high you go from room to room to different teachers for different subjects. Well, in 6th grade we mostly had Miss Gable but we would switch classes for one subject--we'd go across the hall to Mr. Carpenter for science and the other class would go to Miss Gable for social studies. We felt like big kids, switching like the 7th and 8th graders. :-)

-I wrote a paper about Fleming, the guy who discovered Penicillin.

-We did a big unit on public speaking. I remember doing a speech on the Ziegfeld Follies, how to bowl and then for the final project I played a news anchor and I interviewed a classmate who was playing a rock star. I still remember the beginning of my report: "Today I interviewed Leopold Lipsynch...." I guess I practiced zealously, to remember it all these 24 years later.

-There was a girl in my class that nobody liked. And for good reason--she would lie and cheat and steal. But I was "the nice girl" who was friends with everybody, so the teacher would pair me up with her when no one else would etc. Also, a new girl joined our class mid-year. She was from Japan and spoke very little English. Miss Gable pulled me aside and asked me to befriend her or look out for her or whatever. I liked that, I liked my reputation as nice and as everyone's friend. :-)

-I was always great at spelling. In those years where there'd be a pretest (before studying) on Monday and the real spelling test on Friday, I'd always get 100 on the pretest and not have to take Friday's test. I loved that! Anyway, in 6th grade I'm not sure if there was the pretest thing but I remember this boy Theodore would make bets with me that he would do better on the spelling tests than me. {What did we bet?! I don't remember him giving me money or anything?!} Yeah, I always won. :-)

-Our whole grade went on an overnight field trip to Lake Geneva. We had so much fun! We studied a bunch of different subjects (like weather, geography etc.) in hands-on ways with crafts etc. For "orienteering," we used a compass and "paces" to follow a map (my team did really poorly on that adventure, I remember) and "Hebertism" was the funnest part--it was like a ropes course type of thing, team-building (you have to get everyone over the high log etc.). There was a challenge to get a tire up off a tall pole. In the end we needed 3 people standing on each other's shoulder's to do it and because I was skinny and therefore considered "light," I was on top and the one who ultimately lifted off the tire. Tada! Oh and I was horribly afraid of heights so all the hebertism stuff was tough for me (and I was totally not athletic or flexible so that made it hard too), therefore it was so satisfying and rewarding when we were all done!

But I also got homesick while we were there. That night, I wasn't feeling well but I couldn't really describe what was wrong and Miss Gable figured out that I was homesick. She decided I should call my parents but all they had was a payphone so we had to gather up change from everybody so I could call home. I talked and cried to my mom, but ultimately felt better after the phone call.

The Challenger

When the space shuttle Challenger exploded in January of 1986, I was in 6th grade. Leading up to the launch, we had been talking about it because we all knew my science teacher, Mr. Carpenter, had almost made it onto the shuttle in the teacher spot that ultimately went to Christa McAuliffe (rumor had it he made it to the top ten, I don't know if that's true, but he had been in the running).

We were not watching the launch live, however. I remember we were in the science classroom but we had a substitute that day (so that Mr. C could watch the launch) and we were called into the other classroom (Miss Gable's room) and vaguely told that something happened or something went wrong. There, we gathered around a tv and watched with horror the footage of the launch and explosion. I'll never forget!

I remember that we didn't see Mr. C that day, he was obviously very upset (in hindsight, I suspect he had met at least McAuliffe and perhaps other astronauts when he was in the NASA process), I can only imagine how he felt that day!

Thanks for reading! For more 6th grade adventures, head to Mommy's Piggy Tales. And come back next week as I begin junior high.

What I'm Doing, Reading, Watching

It's summer in Phoenix. HOT doesn't begin to describe it. It's scorching! Makes me never want to leave the house, especially with both kids because loading and unloading them from car seats is several minutes under the blazing sun. (I turn the car on so AC blasts on the kids, but I'm standing under the sun and on the black pavement that radiates heat up onto my sandal-clad feet, ouch!) But life goes on and the kids have places to be and I have errands to run.

L goes to camp two mornings per week. Monday and Wednesday afternoons, both kids go to speech therapy. Thursday is my happy day with nowhere to be. :-)

L is doing great in speech. They are working on the "l" sound so he's finally learning to correctly pronounce his name.

T has turned out to be a very difficult therapy "client." She's very resistant! Her SLP is frustrated and wondering if T has more underlying problems. A hearing problem? General apraxia (making it hard for her to sign)? A visual over-stimulation problem?! I think she's just stubborn and not a quick learner. We now have her signing want, and she can put two signs together like want more, want sleep etc. And last night she finally learned open. So it's coming, just slowly.

I need to schedule a hearing test for her, but I'm worried about the expense and I'm procrastinating. Bad mommy!

L and the food. Ugh. We quit feeding therapy when T started speech because of the expense. Also, we felt we could take the techniques she taught us and run with it. Yeah, that hasn't really worked, he's regressed, lost some of the foods he'd been eating. The latest food he dropped was turkey sandwiches, which poses an extra problem: What the heck do I send in his school lunches??!! {Sorry, deep breath.} Next time, I've decided to send the turkey and cheese in a tortilla (since he told his teacher he couldn't chew the bread (liar, liar, pants on fire), I'll get rid of the bread). Anyway, I know I need to make some sort of reward chart and I have some ideas, I just haven't figured out the how and what yet. L is really hard to bribe! If there's something I know he wants, I'll say "you can have {{that thing you really want}} as soon as you {{do the desired behavior}} and he'll say "that's okay I don't really want {{that thing}} anymore." :-(

T went through a Scooby Doo phase that I really enjoyed. He still plays with the toys and likes the books, but he's moved on to watching other things like the Rugrats (awful!). Occasionally I've been able to steer him to Super Why, which has some educational value. ;-) (But today he's watching Barney--eek, I'm convinced that was created to drive parents crazy. Hence, I'm not in the living room right now.) T loves Pingu, the claymation penguin from Sweden. She cracks up and dances to the shows, and that has given me a new tantrum remedy.

What I'm Reading
Inspired by this giveaway (that I didn't win), I've been reading some Jane Austen spin-offs. First up, I read Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marantz Cohen. I really enjoyed this. It's a modern-day Persuasion--lots of stuff was right out of Persuasion (you'll recognize Bennick immediately, for example) but there are plenty of twists (the equivalent of Captain Wentworth is engaged). It was a fun, easy read. My only complaint was I think Cohen was trying to mimic Austen's gift for reading people and her social commentary etc. as Cohen describes all the SAT- and college-application stuff Anne sees as a guidance counselor. In that, I don't think the she was successful. First, Austen is a genius at that, way ahead of her time at pointing out the absurdity of various customs etc. Therefore, Cohen has big shoes to fill. And I just don't think she had particularly witty or special observations about her characters. Perhaps that's because I went to the type of competitive high school where the story is set, so I knew all these types of people up close and personal, so there were no great revelations. That's okay, I still enjoyed and would recommend the book, and I'll be seeking out Cohen's Jane Austen in Boca soon.

Now I am reading Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris. This is another quick, fun read. This is the first time I've read an Austen "sequel," Bebris takes off where Pride and Prejudice ends, at the wedding receptions of Jane and Elizabeth Bennett. It's a mystery--right away strange things start happening. I'm towards the end now and I have a variety of suspects and suspicions, I'm curious how it will all turn out. The plot is interesting, the characters are true to Austen's novel (which is probably the best reason to read this type of book, to spend more time with our "friends" the Bingleys and Darcys), but the style of writing... it's a nice style, readable, not inconsistent with Austen's style, but again, Bebris has big shoes to fill and it just isn't as robust as Austen's prose. That's okay--Austen wrote long novels, we follow all the Bennett sisters through several seasons--Prescience has only covered a couple of weeks and contains about 8 characters. I wasn't expecting Austen reborn, I'm just grateful I'm not cringing. And I'm not, far from it, it's a lovely read, and I'll come back when I've finished and tell you how I liked the resolution and whether or not I'll seek out more of Bebris' works.

What I'm Watching

I've found two new tv shows recently. I don't know why, but I started DVRing reruns of Castle this summer. I like Nathan Fillion and I've been looking for a new mystery show since Without a Trace was cancelled. So I tried Castle and I like it. Fillion plays a mystery writer (named Castle) who shadows a homicide detective (played by Stana Katic). Fillion is fun to watch, though he is sometimes over the top. The mysteries (I've seen 3 episodes so far) have been pretty interesting, though in 2 cases, I caught on to a clue before the characters did (boo). There's supposed to be a "will they or won't they" thing going on between Castle and the detective, but I'm just not feeling the chemistry. Regardless, I'm enjoying the show.

TNT has a new show this summer (there have been 3 epsiodes so far, of which I've seen 2) called Rizzoli and Isles. Angie Harmon is Rizzoli, a homicide detective, and Sasha Alexander is Isles, a medical examiner, and they solve crimes. It looks like the premise is Isles dresses well and Rizzoli doesn't, but whatever, it's nice to see two strong, smart female leads. And the mysteries have been pretty good. And I like Angie Harmon. So I'm sticking with it for now.
That's a little of what's been going on in my world. Now I'm off to write my next Piggy Tale....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Linky Love 3

Here are two weeks' worth of what I've been enjoying online....

Courtney of Women Living Well shared her favorite online devotionals.

Melissa of Saving Cents with Sense shared 7 tricks to saving money at Disneyland.

Also along the lines of vacation (because we might be heading to San Diego next month), I'm loving this list of ideas from We are That Family for driving with kids. She also links to other helpful lists and posts so it's a great resource.

I found a bunch of recipes this week that I want to try:
Thanks to Oh Amanda's Nertz post I was directed to this recipe for pizza fondue.

And I found two new blogs that made me laugh this week:
Stark Raving Mad Mom--this is the post that first brought me to her blog--if you've ever asked yourself, "Where are Max and Ruby's parents?" it's a must-read.

Rants from Mommyland--check out this post that made me laugh out loud.

For more linky love, check out It's Come to This!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five Question Friday--July 23

1. What were your school colors?

Grade School: maroon and gold
High School: blue and green
College: brown and blue
Law School: maize and blue

Hmmm, I just noticed that other than grade school, all my schools had some form of blue color(h.s. was like a regular blue, college was a light blue and law school was navy blue). Fascinating!

2. What's the best compliment you ever received?
The summer before my senior year in high school, I went to a summer program at a university. I'm someone who is always signing something or another. Anyway, so I'm walking down the hall of the dorm with a friend and singing I-don't-know-what and this guy that I barely knew overheard and complimented my singing. He asked if I was a soloist at my school!!! It was a crazy idea--little ol' me a soloist? Not at my crazy competitive high school! I was always in the back of the chorus. To this day, this is the greatest unsolicited compliment I've ever received--it was so out-of-the-blue and genuine.

3. Do you buy cheap or expensive toilet paper?
I buy good toilet paper inexpensively. ;-) We get Charmin at Costco.

4. Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you? Or have you had one for someone else?
I can think of three surprise parties in my lifetime. First, for my 18th birthday in college, my roommate threw me a surprise party in our common area in the dorm. Surprised me as I came back to the dorm after church Sunday night. Complete and total shock. It wasn't much of a party, I don't think there was food, one acquaintance gifted me with a beer, but it was a really nice gesture. And it was only a month into the school year, so it made me feel at home. :-)

Second one: in law school for my 22nd birthday, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I headed out to Pizzeria Uno for dinner. At the hostess stand, we ran into another couple from our class and awkwardly tried to figure out if we should join each other for dinner, but I didn't suspect anything. Then we all headed downstairs and there was the rest of our class there to surprise me for my birthday! I'm not even sure Hubby knew about it. Good times.

My 19th birthday was also full of surprises. My friend organized for a bunch of us to go apple-picking (unrelated to my upcoming birthday). It was lots of fun. Then we drove to her parents' house who lived in the area and it became a surprise birthday party for me with food and gifts and cake. Then, they took me to an ice cream parlor that embarasses the birthday girl/guy on the loudspeaker. Lots of fun!

I tried to return the favor and surprise that friend on her birthday. We gathered everyone in a friend's dorm room and surprised her--at least she looked surprised, but when I asked if she was surprised, she said "no," she'd overheard us planning it in the dining hall. :-( {Note: if you are ever in that situation, where you weren't really surprised, please lie and say you were, it will make your host feel better.} Still, a good time was had by all.

5. What is one material possession that you "can't live without"?

I can't choose--I cannot live without either chapstick or Coke. (Hopefully, in a future season of life, I can wean myself off of caffeine, but right now, it's a necessity.)

For more fun answers, go here. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

MPT7--Fifth Grade and a Favorite Teacher

This is the seventh in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 6, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Fifth Grade. Today we're talking about 5th grade and now is when my memory starts improving. I remember showing off my "double jointed" arms one day in line. I remember the boy I had a crush on once held open my desk for me. {Way to lead me on, Cory!} I remember timed multiplication tests--I would never finish all the questions, but of those I answered, I'd get 100% correct. When we were doing the spelling bee, I missed the first word "abate"--I spelled it "abait." I liked writing really really small and at one point my teacher took me and this other girl aside and told us we had to write bigger. And I was bummed because I loved my itty bitty handwriting.

But when I look back, what sticks with me about 5th grade was my teacher, one of my all-time favorites, Mrs. Ihlenfeldt (I have no idea how to spell that!). She was a pretty woman, probably around 50 years old because I remember she had a grown son. Really kind!

One of my favorite memories of that year is that she would read to our class. That practice had stopped a few years back as we were considered big kids who only did silent reading. But Mrs. I would read books to us again and it was such a treat. I can't remember all she read to us, but I think two of them were "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Hobbit." And then she took our class on a field trip to see "The Hobbit" on stage. :-)

In general, I think teachers liked me. But Mrs. I took a special interest in me. She noticed I was very self-critical and she took it upon herself to increase my self-esteem. I don't remember how she did it, but I remember around Valentine's Day we were making basket-weave hearts. I looked at the heart I had made and complimented it and Mrs. I overheard and practically jumped for joy that I'd complimented myself! {Of course, then I was completely embarassed and ashamed as if I'd been bragging. I had a strong aversion to bragging.} So I guess her encouragement had worked. ;-)

Although I continued to struggle with self-esteem (and still do, to this day), I truly appreciate all that Mrs. Ihlenfeldt did to encourage me to see my worth and acknowledge my accomplishments and mostly I am just grateful that she took a special interest in me--that was the greatest compliment of all!

For more 5th grade adventures, head over to Mommy's Piggy Tales. And tune in next week for my 6th grade memories (that was the year the Challenger exploded)....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WFMW--time management tip

Ever since my second child was born (almost 2 years ago), I've really struggled with time management. I don't know how to juggle housework, playing with the kids, and much needed downtime for me.

I recently (maybe 6 weeks ago) saw a tip, probably on WFMW, where the mom wrote out her To Do List for the day and then scheduled when she'd do each item. At the time I thought "She's crazy!" Actually, I believe my thoughts were more along the lines of "that's nice for her, but I couldn't do that, I never know what my day will be like" etc. {Which is why, I'm sorry to say, I didn't bookmark the post, therefore I have no one to credit. If you know who you are, let me know in the comments!}

Edited to add: I found it! Alicia's Homemaking is where I originally saw this idea. Go read her post here. Thanks!!!

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago.... I don't know how it came about, I guess I had several things to get done the next day, so I scheduled those tasks for 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 the next morning. Surprisingly, this is the best idea I've had in a long time. As it turns out, I do have pretty predictable mornings--my kids play in the living room while watching tv. All our activities are in the afternoons (other than L going to camp Tuesday and Friday mornings, which doesn't affect my 9, 10, 11 plan). Sometimes we run an errand--which can be scheduled at 9, 10 or 11.

So here's what I've been doing: I take 3 items I want to get done (not including laundry, it doesn't need a time slot since it's just 5 minutes here and there) and I give it a time slot of 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00. Now, in the couple weeks I've been doing this, I've never actually done all 3 tasks right on time. I am extremely lazy and tend to procrastinate, but generally the stuff is getting done! That is HUGE for me!

As an example, here's what today's To Do List looked like:
9:00 shower
10:00 make phone calls
11:00 fold clothes

Okay, so that list looks pretty pathetic. Other examples are: go to Target, get dinner in the crockpot, and blog.

This system spreads out the work (very important to a lazy girl like me)--since each task only takes 15 to 30 minutes, it builds in plenty of time between tasks to play with my kids or take an internet break. It's realistic because I'm not trying to fit 6 tasks into a single morning. It also gives structure to my day. And I don't have to do anything (other than get the kids up, dressed, medicated, and fed) before 9am. I am NOT a morning person.

As I said, it's not a perfect system and I'm still lazy and I still procrastinate. I've had "make phone calls" on my list for 3 days now! But it's still been a huge breakthrough for me. And the days that I closely follow my schedule, feel so good and I've found myself at 1pm feeling productive and with nothing to do but hang out with my kids. Awesome!

For the record, I get more than three things done in a day. As any mom knows, I'm also feeding my kids, cleaning up breakfast, changing diapers, making lunch, changing the laundry, calming a tantrum etc. This new trick should help me find time for the non-daily stuff like cleaning toilets--ooh fun!

The only downside of this system, is that on those days where I'm lazy and let time pass unproductively, I can see exactly where I went off the rails. I know all that could've been accomplished but wasn't. Not a great feeling, but hopefully that's motivation for sticking to my plan the next day.

That's what's working for me these days. Check out lots more ideas at We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday-- Must-See Movies

I am linking up with Oh Amanda today with this list of 10 movies you should see if you haven't already. Some are my old favorites and others are recent finds, but they have in common that you may have missed them in theaters and I recommend you check them out. In no particular order....

1. The Hurt Locker. I know this won best picture, but I feel like a lot of people haven't seen this yet. It follows a team of soldiers in Iraq who get called in to deal with explosives. It's just a really well done film, not too suspenseful, very compelling.

2. Mansfield Park. This film is only loosely based on Jane Austen's novel of the same name. I saw the movie first and then read the book and personally, I prefer the movie (sorry, Jane). Fanny Price is poor and sent to live with her rich cousins. She falls for cousin Edmund but can he ever love her back? There's unrequited love and longing glances and Jonny Lee Miller. Love it!

3. Passengers. I'd never heard of this movie until we recently found it on Starz. It's a clever mystery (again, not too suspenseful) about a plane crash that kept us guessing until a satisfying conclusion.

4. Swept from the Sea. I love this movie! It's a beautiful story about love and kindness between a lonely woman and a shipwrecked man. Great cast--Rachel Weisz, Ian McKellen, Kathy Bates.

5. Once. How can I describe this little gem? Street musician guy meets foreign rose-selling girl and they discover a mutual love of music and become friends. It's sweet, it's complicated, it's got great music--check it out!

6.Persuasion. Another Jane Austen adaptation, this one very true to the novel. Anne Elliott loved Wentworth back when they were young and he was poor but she was persuaded to give him up. Fast forward 15 years and they meet up again and it's all awkwardness and bitterness and longing. (I feel like everyone has seen Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility; Persuasion is less well-known, a little harder to follow on first viewing, but oh so worth it!)

7. A Walk to Remember. Bad boy (Shane West) meets good girl (Mandy Moore), opposites attract. Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Sweet, moral, good singing. If you like chick flicks, this is a good one.

These last 3 are all M. Night Shyamalan movies. Everybody's seen The Sixth Sense but you may have missed these three that I think are even better.**

8. Signs. A widower (Mel Gibson) and his family discover crop circles in their cornfield. This is one of my favorite movies--it's about a lot more than aliens. It has a few scary moments, but Shyamalan has a way of warning you that something's about to happen, so even a wimp like me can handle it.

9. The Village. Again, this was billed as a monster movie, but it's much more than that. As Netflix describes, it's about "an isolated village whose residents face the constant threat of evil creatures." But really it's about friendship, love, family--and great storytelling.

10. Lady in the Water. Who markets this stuff?! This is a wonderful movie that nobody saw. It's a fable: an apartment manager (Paul Giamatti) meets a sea nymph and tries to help her return home. A great little story, compelling from start to finish.

**Yes, we are big Shyamalan fans, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT rent The Happening. It's AWFUL.

So what do you think--have I convinced you to go rent some of these? Do you agree with my assessment of those you have seen? What are some of your faves that I should check out?

For more top ten lists, visit Oh Amanda. Thanks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Five Question Friday--July 15

It's Friday again and I love this meme. Five Question Friday brought to you by Mama M. Wherein I ramble about myself (unlike all those other posts I write). It's late so this will be quick and dirty.1. Do you collect anything?
In the past I've collected various things (like pins/buttons and novelty pencils), but currently I just collect Coca Cola stuff (my dream is to one day have a Coca Cola/'50s diner-style kitchen) and Willow Tree figurines.

2. Name 3 celebrities that you find good looking.
It's so hard to name just 3. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, hmmm I can't decide between Jonny Lee Miller and Orlando Bloom.

3. Do you have any scars? If so, what's the story behind it (them?)?
I scar easily so I have about a million. Actually, scars on my legs tend to disappear with time, so it's just the 30 or so scars on my arms from mosquito bites and chicken pox (I was a scratcher!). You could play connect the dots with all of them. Other than that, I have a scar on my back from when I had a mole removed in my teens. Okay, I just checked and I do still have a scar on my knee from when I fell climbing a mountain/hill/waterfall while in France, so that's cool. Oh and I checked my other knee and there still remains the scar from when I fell off my bike sometime in middle school.

4. What is a food that you like to eat, but others might think it's gross or weird?
I'm a picky eater, so I don't eat exotic things. Some people find it odd that I don't put jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches--they are just peanut butter and bread.

5. Have you ever seen a tornado in real life?
No. I've been through tornado watches, tornado warnings and tornado drills, having grown up in the midwest, but I've not seen or survived an actual tornado.

For more 5 Question fun, head over here. Have a great weekend!

MPT6--4th Grade

This is the sixth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 5, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Fourth Grade.I'm dragging my butt to write this post--apparently I'm not feeling the love for 4th grade. I had one of my least favorite teachers, Mrs. Kaychuk (not sure I'm spelling that right). I thought she was okay, but I didn't love her like my previous teachers. And I learned years later that Mrs. K was the only teacher my mom refused to let my younger sisters have. {My school wouldn't let parents request a certain teacher for their children unless a previous child had had that teacher. Since I had had Mrs K, my mom was able to make sure neither of my younger sisters were put in her class. I don't know why my mom felt so strongly, I think she was just a bit scatterbrained, and maybe not as challenging as my mom would have liked.}

My elementary/grade school was divided in two campuses: K-4 at one campus (in Glenview) and 5-8 at the other (in Wilmette). Therefore, in 3rd grade I was looking forward to going into 4th grade. We would "rule the school" as the oldest kids. I'd always looked up to 4th graders as so old and cool. (I found this hilarious as I got older, how do you ever think 9-year-olds are OLD?! Of course, now that L is 5 I think, that's so old, he's growing up too fast. So it's all relative!)

Also, my older sister was only a year ahead of me in school, so I was also looking forward to her being at the other campus.

At some point toward the end of 3rd grade, however, I learned that we would be moving over to the other campus too. The rising 3rd grade class was big--it had 3 classes (rising 4th grade (me) and rising 5th grade (my sister) each had two classes). So not only would we not be the oldest in our school next year, we would be the youngest. And I would still be in the same school as my sister, and in fact, I'd be in her same HALL. Yuck!

I also remember I hated the bathroom in the 4th-5th grade hall so I would try really hard to not use the bathroom all day.

Good times.

Yeah, 4th grade had some strikes against it. But I have two good memories to highlight.

In science that year, we learned about electricity. I remember everyone did a project with circuits and for mine I did like a question and answer game on posterboard. The questions were on the left side of the poster and the answer choices on the right, and somehow I rigged up the wires (this is the part I remember, carefully configuring the wires so the game would work) so when you chose the right answer, a lightbulb lit up. I can't really describe it. Anyway, that was a fun project. I think we went around the room, kind of like a fair, trying out each other's games/circuits. Cool!

Creative Writing
I remember we did a lot of writing in 4th grade. I don't know how often (maybe once a month?) we would have a "Story Starter"--I loved this. Mrs. K would pass out these little slips of paper that had a sentence or two on it (everyone got the same one, I believe) that would start a story. You didn't have to use the actual sentence to start your story, it was just an idea, like "you are a grain of sand, where do you end up?"

Oh what I wouldn't give to have my imagination back! In those days, this was all I needed to spin a wondrous tale! This is where I developed my love of writing short stories. I wrote a short story in 7th grade that won a prize. I later took a summer school class for short-story-writing that I loved, but I didn't do much creative writing after that. When I took a creative writing--short fiction class in college, my imagination had dried up and I found it really hard to crank out stories. :-( Anyway....

I remember for the "grain of sand" story, I ended up in Africa. At the time, my family sponsored a child with one those Compassion-type organizations, and our sponsored child lived in Khartoum, Sudan--and so that is where my grain of sand ended up in my story.

So that's what I remember from 4th grade. Go to Mommy's Piggy Tales to read more 4th grade adventures, then come back next week for my memories of 5th grade and my favorite teacher of all time!!! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Linky Love--July 10

Fashionably late again, here's some cool stuff I found this week:Organizing Junkie put together a link-up for recipe collections: what an amazing wealth of recipes! I am in such a dinner rut right now, I'm eager to pour over all the collections and find new recipes to try.

Amy @ Finer Things linked up her collection and I found this recipe that I will try next time I have company: Cavatini.

Fantastic Find blog has compiled an awesome list of paper doll printables. I can't wait till T is old enough for us to play paperdolls together. :-)

Today I stumbled on to these unusual action figures: Jane Austen and Rosie the Riveter. Am I crazy or are these totally awesome?! I want them for myself, I mean my daughter.

Head on over to It's Come to This for more linky love.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Five Question Friday--July 9

1. What is one food you could eat everyday?
Actually, there are a few foods that I do eat (nearly) everyday. I have Eggo waffles for breakfast and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch most days. I am a creature of habit. I wish my kids didn't mind eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch day after day, sadly they require variety, thus making my job harder. Alas....

Anyway, PIZZA. Pizza is a food I could eat everyday. Especially if I could vary the brand, restaurant, toppings... yeah, I could eat pizza everyday. And love doing it! Yummmmm.

2. Are you working in the career you thought you would be when you were 18?
Haha, NO! When I was 18, I was firmly against having children, so the fact that I am a SAHM to 2 kids, would probably blow her mind. At the time, I planned to be a lawyer, and technically I am one (I have the degree and passed the Bar etc.), I just don't practice and the whole law school thing (aside from meeting my husband) was a big ol' wrong move and when I go back to work at some point when the kids are in school full time, it will not be in law.

3. What is something that you wish you would have done when you were younger and you didn't?
Okay, I've thought and thought about this one, but I can't come up with anything (I'll be eager to read others' answers). All I can say is I wish I'd formed better habits: found a physical activity I enjoy so I wouldn't hate exercising; got in the habit of making my bed and putting dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher etc. (I'm such a bad housekeeper); I wish I'd paid more attention to how my mom did things.... {Sorry, boring answer!}

4. What color are your kitchen walls?
Because we haven't been able to redecorate since we moved in (5 years ago), we are living with the previous owner's hideous cream-with-pink-flowers wallpaper in our kitchen. Except for the wall where we've started (very slowly) to remove it.

5. Do you remember what your very first favorite song was?
When I first read this question, I thought of Dell Shannon's "Runaway." That song predates me (it's from 1961 and I was born in '74) so it is possible that was my first favorite song, but I can't say for sure. {Note to self: buy it on iTunes.} Naked Eye's "Always Something There To Remind Me" came out in 1983, when I was in 3rd grade, and that was and still is a favorite. For your listening pleasure.......

For more fun answers, head over here. Thanks, Mama M, for hosting!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

MPT5--3rd Grade & Getting Glasses

This is the fifth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 4, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Third Grade.

I loved 3rd Grade. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Oswald--she was one of my favorites. I don't remember too much about that year. I remember reading (again I was in the highest reading group). I believe we learned multiplication and a little division. And we would go across the hall every afternoon to Mrs. Hayden's room (the other 3rd grade class) for a sing-along. I love to sing, so this was awesome. I remember we sang "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor" and "Have You Seen the Ghost of John" (that one's still a favorite of mine around Halloween). Fun stuff.

Third Grade is the year I got glasses. I'm so excited to tell this story because it involves curling. Yes, that funny winter sport that looks kind of like bowling on ice.

My parents curled. The Chicago Curling Club is in Northbrook, IL, about 20 minutes away from my childhood home. Apparently, my next door neighbors (the ones who hosted the 4th of July parties) were longtime members of the Club and they introduced my parents to the sport. All my growing up years, both my parents were in the various leagues and bonspiels (tournaments). My sisters and I loved to go with them to the Curling Club--we loved the locker room, the free popcorn, the bleacher/benches. It was a cool place. {I've always liked being a little bit different, so it was fun knowing about this sport that was foreign to most Americans. It wasn't an Olympic sport till 1998, so none of my friends knew what I was talking about when I told them my parents curled.}

In curling, there is a long sheet of ice with a bullseye on each end. At one end, you slide your stone and it glides along toward the bullseye at the other end. As it travels, other members of your team sweep around the stone to help it move faster, slower, or in a different direction. The team who has a stone closest to the center of the bullseye after each person on the team (a team is 4 people) has sent two stones, gets the points in that "end" (round), 10 ends in a game and so on.

One day in 3rd grade, my family was at the curling club. My dad was curling, my mom and sisters and I were watching the game and hanging out. I know my mom and I were in the bleachers. She was keeping score on a piece of paper and at one point she asked me to tell her the score. Here is a picture to give you a sense of the length of a curling "sheet" (photo credit): And here is a picture of the scoreboard at the Chicago Curling Club--on the far side of the ice (photo credit):

So my mom asked me the score and I really thought she was crazy. "I can't read that!" I said. Little did I know, as an 8-year-old who obviously had been near-sighted for a while, that I was supposed to be able to see so far away. I remember my mom was surprised. I don't remember if she asked me more questions about what I could and couldn't see. I just remember being surprised that she would think I could read the scoreboard from so far away... and then going to the eye doctor and getting glasses.

No one had ever suspected me of needing glasses. I'd had a vision test at school each year and always passed. I hadn't had any trouble seeing in school. No wonder my mom was surprised! And I was surprised when I first put on my new glasses and realized the world was so much clearer!!!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how I got glasses. Head over to Mommy's Piggy Tales, for more 3rd grade memories and tune in next week for my 4th grade adventures. Thanks!

P.S. I just saw there is a flickr group for Chicago Curling Club--so for more pics of my childhood haunt, go here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Linky Love--July 3

I know that I am late to the party (it being nearly 9pm Pacific), but I really wanted to share some linky love by joining Saturday Stumbles. This is actually a couple of weeks' worth of links because I really wanted to join in last week but didn't get my act together. {Why yes, that is the story of my life.} Check out all this cool stuff!
First up, via Leanne, I saw this awesome car organizer (made out of towels!) that I hope one day to be crafty enough to make. Awesome!

I'm totally enjoying Mommy's Piggy Tales. Head over to this post by Aspiring Mom to see the same '80s Barbie camper I grew up with!

Do you have a party bin? I think it's a great idea! Mandi wrote a great post about how and why to put one together.

Thank you to Delicious Ambiguity for sharing her ideas for a toddler busy bag and activities.

Via Momedy, this is so true: This is why I'll never be an adult by Hyperbole and a Half. Must read!
I hope you check out some of these gems, then head over to It's Come to This for more linky love. Thanks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

MPT4--Second Grade and 4th of July Parties

This is the fourth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 3, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Second Grade. I actually remember less from 2nd grade than I do from 1st grade. My teacher was Mrs. Alborn (not sure I'm spelling that right) and I really liked her.

I hated reading out loud. Although I was a good reader, reading aloud was difficult for me (and I was shy to begin with), which is probably why I remember the day I was reading aloud and I misread/mispronounced "thousand." Oh, the embarassment!

I also have memories of learning to tell time. She would set up one of those learning clocks where you can move the hands. She would set a time and then sit in the back of the room and when you figured out what time it was, you would go over and whisper it into her ear. One by one, kids would get up until everyone in the class had figured it out and then she'd change the time and start over. I think it took me a while to get the hang of it, so I remember when it finally "clicked" and I was one of the first kids to get in line to whisper the answer.

Are you getting the feeling I was a competitive kid?! Sheesh, I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to just chill, life is not a competition, although I also know that my ambition and drive helped me accomplish a lot. Thankfully, later on I learned to compete with myself rather than others.

Since I don't have a lot of specific second grade memories and because we're coming up on Independence Day, I thought this would be a great time to share the 4th of July traditions of my childhood........

I've mentioned before that I lived in the same house all my life and we lived on a cul-de-sac with lots of other families with kids. It was a great place to grow up! Every 4th of July, my street had a block party. All the families contributed money and food. Even some families who had moved off of our street would come back every year for the party.

We kids would get up in the morning and (while the adults were getting the party ready) we'd decorate our bikes for the parade. We would put streamers through the spokes of our wheels, streamers from the handlebars, anything we could think of to fancy up our bikes. My sisters and the neighbor girls and I would gather on one driveway and work at the task very diligently. The parade was around noon, but it seemed like it never started on time, we would be so impatient. Finally, the neighbors would come out and say it was time and we'd take our bikes down to the end of the street. We'd line up and someone would blow a whistle or something and we'd set off down the street.

When we were little, it was like a slow parade. As we got older, we turned it into a race. We'd have our bathing suits under our clothes and we'd race down the street and then run to the pool (and get annoyed because it was taking our parents too long and we wanted to swim). Then as we were older (maybe high school) we embraced the parade idea again and though we were still on our bikes, we went slowly rather than racing.

After the race/parade, the party was in the backyard of our next door neighbors (the Roches), the only house on our block that had a pool. We kids spent most of the day in the pool. The men grilled burgers and maybe hot dogs. (My sisters didn't like hamburgers and they didn't like hot dogs that were grilled, so my mom would boil a bunch of hot dogs at our house and bring them over. I, however, loved burgers!)

The rest of the food was a potluck, but there were always baked beans and Mrs. Doering would usually make lemon squares, which I loved but my sisters didn't so I think my mom always contributed a dessert we liked. (Noticing a trend? We're all picky eaters.) Several desserts, lots of fruit, always watermelon. I loved having free rein to eat all day whatever I wanted, lots of desserts. And I remember the evolution of going from kids picnic table to regular table, from swimming all day to "laying out," from decorating bicycles to helping set up the party (blowing up balloons, and feeling so grown up when I could tie them off by myself).

And of course we subscribed to the theory that you shouldn't swim within half an hour of eating. Oh that half hour wait was agony to us kids!!!

The adults drank this cocktail called a scorpion. Every year, the same drink in the same enormous metal punch bowl. The grown-ups loved it and my sisters and I would usually take a sip each year (under my parents' supervision, of course) and think it tasted nasty and why would anyone drink that?!

Eventually, the party wound down in the evening. People went home and showered. When I was young, an former neighbor (Mr. Brenner) would bring fireworks. After it got dark, we'd all assemble outside by the circle and he (and some other dads) would put on a little fireworks display. Oh and sparklers, we loved sparklers! I think fireworks were illegal at the time, so sometimes a cop would show up and tell us to pack it in, but by then we were done anyway. In later years, he stopped coming to the parties, maybe someone else would have a few fireworks and maybe some sparklers, but when I was young, the fireworks were the coolest thing and we would be so impatient for it to get dark!

Also in the evening, some adults would play board games. One time, I was probably college age, I joined in Trivial Pursuit. I love Trivial Pursuit! I remember getting a question about how many witches were killed during the Salem Witch Trials and I tried hard to remember from history class: 12? 16? 21? Turns out the answer was "none" because no one was actually a witch. I thought that was a strange "trick" question for that game. Funny the things you remember!

Oh and the other fun thing about these parties--the photo albums. There would be a table of old photo albums that the Roches had made of all the previous 4th of July parties. We loved looking at old pictures of ourselves, and older pictures with hideous '70s fashions. (I think the party tradition started in the '60s--wow!) We'd ask our mom, "who is that little kid?" and it would be Jennifer or Jamie who were now teenagers or in college.

I loved my neighbors and I loved these parties! Really, some of the best memories from my childhood!

Sadly, the party tradition has ended. By the time I was in my 20s, there were fewer kids on the block and the Roches were too old to host, so no more parties. A few years ago, Mrs. Roche died. She was like a grandmother to all of us on my street. Very sad. Finally, my parents moved from our old house two years ago.

For more walks down memory lane, check out Mommy's Piggy Tales. Thanks for reading!