Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Year Ago – piano lessons

The kids have been taking piano lessons now for about one year and are still enjoying the classes very much. We’ve even had a few lessons during the summer, although our R&R, their teacher’s vacation, and now ‘Eid has meant many classes were skipped, but here are some of the songs they are learning now.

One of Brian’s newest assignments:


When I asked Brian to play me a song, I thought he’d pick one he was more familiar with, but he chose this one, a song he was only recently assigned. That was fine with me… I like his serious look of concentration as he’s reading the music :)

Honor played several songs for me, and I chose this one to share as she managed to play along without getting distracted, despite the cats having a smack down behind her on the table!


We have also kept busy these past couple weeks finishing up our (late) spring cleaning. The kids have learned that taking a big job and breaking it into smaller pieces makes the work easier, as is enlisting a buddy to help you out a little. Kitties are excellent at sorting through boxes.


Brian did have to lecture Pixie about finishing her work before playing with the toys she found during clean up (she has a marble under her paw).


I’ve been working on several sewing projects, and cooking.

One cookie recipe I made was this one for very easy, and totally delicious, Ginger Spice Cookies. You probably have everything in your cupboard right now. Go make them, you won’t regret it! Of course, me and my inability to follow a recipe means I added more of the spices than the recipe called for, plus a bit of anis powder, and rather than following their ‘drop a teaspoon of batter onto the wax paper to coat with sugar’, I used my method of rolling a small ball of batter in a bowl of sugar… but do whatever you want. It’s a very flexible recipe and yummy!

I also made these:


We called them ‘Chocolatey Bars of Goodness’ and Honor says they taste just like a (forget the brand name) chocolate chip peanut butter cereal bar that I sent to school snack for her last year. I made this up because I had things in my pantry that were in my way and I didn’t know what else to do with them. Specifically, some cocoa puff type cereal the kids haven’t been eating and a jar of marshmallow fluff. The fluff was something given to me, and I have NEVER used it before. I really had no clue what to do with it! Here’s what I came up with:

Melted 250g butter in a small casserole dish (by microwave)

Stirred in the whole (small) jar of marshmallow fluff

I stirred in 1/2 to 1 cup of creamy peanut butter… I didn’t measure, I just added and stirred until it looked creamy and yummy.

Next I added in 3-4 cups of the cereal. Again, I did not measure. I just stirred in as much as I could until I couldn’t add any more and still coat it with the peanut butter-fluff mixture.

Then it went into the fridge to cool off.

It wasn’t super sweet, like the marshmallow & krispy rice cereal bars. Those are good for about the first 4 bites and then get to be ‘too much’ for us. And while they had the chocolate peanut butter taste of a Reese’s candy, it wasn’t solid and heavy and ‘too much’ in that direction either. Like Honor said, it turned out more like a cereal bar (which makes sense, because it is made with cereal… but it looks more like desert than a cereal!).

We are on a long weekend currently. Blessed ‘Eid to all! School starts next week and I think we are actually ready for it. It’s been a very long, very relaxing summer, but it’s time to get back to a routine!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anywhere a cat can go, and other things that make me smile.

I served crepes for breakfast today, a meal which a couple of my neighbors and other friends (inc. Shannon & Donna) on facebook made me feel guilty for posting… just a little guilty feeling, those crepes were too yummy to fret over! I was sure that I had sprinkled vanilla powder into the batter, but as I sat down to eat with my family, I got the impression that I must have grabbed the silly powder by mistake. I’m not sure what I did … I truly forget… but Brian called me an alien. About that time, Honor accidentally dipped her elbow in her plate, and Brad, sitting next to her, threatened to bite the Nutella off of her arm. I looked at Brian and asked him if he still thought I was the alien? He said yes, but at least I was from this solar system. Brad asked him if he was sure about that… that maybe I’d arrived on some meteor and was not really from nearby. That caused Honor to launch into a wild story about an egg flying through space, landing on the earth, and after awhile, out popped mom! Brad summarized it all by saying that I was a result of Trick-or-Treating aliens egging the earth…  and we ended that conversation with Honor singing some made-up song and dancing her robot version of Walk like an Egyptian around the table. I was laughing so hard that I could barely eat! (Which is probably a good thing when it comes to crepes and nutella!) I love my silly family!

Here are some other things that make me smile – our cats, and their tendency to go places just because they can. Enjoy!

Where can cats go?

Pixie - INTO whatever we are working on, at any time, no matter what.


Ninja - UP CLOSE IN your face.


Pumpkin & Pixie - IN a basket that does not belong to them. (Taking thing OUT that they aren’t supposed to.)


Pumpkin - ACROSS mom’s lap, like the baby he is.


Ninja - INSIDE a box fort.


Pixie - UP a ladder.


Pixie - ACROSS as much stuff as she can reach, even if she has to stretch. (Yes, it does all belong to Pixie, or so she might tell you… )


Pixie - ON TOP OF the best part of the couch (even if she has to push Brian OFF OF it, to get what she wants… see note above.)


And let’s end this with a triple feature: Ninja - IN a box, ON a bookshelf, NEXT to the ceiling.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Things I Find

My kids are quite the tool users. They use our cameras, computers, smart phone, my new tablet, etc. Fortunately they are awesomely great kids (yes I am biased, I’m allowed) and I don’t mind handing such toys over to them, and I often find interesting photos when I clean out my files…

I took this one of the two of them with some app on my phone


I found others… 





And this, artwork of Brian’s that had been hanging outside of his classroom. A painting project after their field trip to Wadi Rum.

2011-05-19 10.00.03   The dolls were, apparently, partying in Honor’s room…


The pony wore stylish shoes


The bunny brought snacks


Ninja was dressed up too


She wasn’t too upset, but didn’t much like wearing a dress. What impresses me is that she apparently allowed Honor to button up THREE buttons on this! Talk about patience.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can I Bug You For a Minute?

I can’t believe that I forgot to post these earlier, but I just have to share Honor’s bug friends. Honor found these guys in grandpa’s garden (in California) while we were on R&R. I guess that she really missed her baby bird after we delivered it to the wildlife rehabilitation place, and so she had to adopt new friends to fill the gap.


Big, green creepy friends.


She taught them tricks


I think the guy on the left was a better student.


Good behavior earned them great treats


They also got baths and naps. Spoiled rotten worms!

Honor also found another buddy to care for…


I guess it reminded her of her baby bird.


It may have actually been bigger than the baby bird… let’s see… baby bird…




I think the moth was bigger!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do I Annoy My Younger Self?

My friend Lydia over at Here, There and Everywhere shared her insightful comments on this article "25 Reasons Your Childhood Self Hates You". She disagreed on a number of things stated in the article, and I often found myself agreeing with her … I’m thinking it’s because we’re both mothers. So, if myself as a child could have a heart to heart with me of today… would she think I turned out ok? Or would she be disappointed?

1} You like going to bed early.

Sometimes, but sometimes ‘early’ means 2am ‘early’ morning. I like having the choice to sleep when I want or need.

2} You could buy the best Nerf Gun on the market right now and you don't

O really? Sure, technically the toys are for the kids, but they share...


3} You enjoy a day at the museum

I do! Especially when we get to go as a family. I think younger me would have loved to see some of the things we have seen. 

4} You have made no effort to go to Disney World

Fail. We did all sorts of Disney this summer and had a blast!

5}You can't remember the last time you played any version of tag

Not only do I remember clearly, I also recently invented running off with the power of being ‘it’… making the kid who tagged me, have to chase me, in order to get tagged and return the ‘it’ power to the game. I never thought of that twist in the rules as a kid.

6} You are getting out of shape

Getting?! My younger self never even imagined being over 40.. hopefully she’ll forgive me.

7} You have spent money on a tie and dress shoes

I’ve had to. Darn social expectations… 

8} You go through the check out line and don't buy candy

That’s because the candy that I like is not usually found in the check out line, you have to go over to the candy aisle or a specialty shop. duh. 

9} You eat your vegetables and you like it

I’ve always loved fresh fruit and veg and my dad’s garden was our ‘snack food’ cabinet. Myself as a kid would likely be very disappointed in the quality of some modern, mass produced fruits and veggies.

10} You listen to NPR

Only if Brad makes me. I can’t stand it when the radio talks to me. I don’t care if what is being talked about is interesting… radio is for music and I’d rather have if off than on a talk show.  

11} You haven't talked to your grade school BFF in years

I have no idea where I’d even FIND any of my grade school classmates, much less BFFs.

12} You don't have a hit single and you aren't touring the world in luxury

I never wanted to have a hit single, and I am touring the world, which is what I wanted… so nothing to be hating about there. 

13} You spend most of your free time with a boyfriend/girlfriend

Yep! My best friend as a little kid was a boy anyway, so my young self wouldn’t be surprised at how easy I get along with my hubby.

14} You smoke everyday

I’m old enough to know better!

15} You lie

Of course.

16} You know how to buy Popsicles and that they are extremely cheap and yet you don't

I didn’t like them then, I don’t like them now. Young me would be impressed with my Cuisinart ice cream freezer though. Tonight’s selection is creamy butter pecan… cake made with fresh figs too. 

17} You can stay out all night every night but choose not to

Like staying up late, I’m now old enough to have the choice to go out or stay in, and my choice is to stay in most nights with the kids and my husband because it’s more fun. Being able to do what I want to do, is what I always wanted.  

18} You didn't make sure there was a basketball court and a video game room when choosing a place to live

We have a garden, a place for the wii, a place for 4 computers and all associated games, a craft area, and so much more. We even let our kids inhabit and invade every single room in the house! Yes, their toys, books and games are often in plain sight! My dad was old school Navy and that would have never been allowed. Former me, and current me, are disappointed with the lack of a BBQ grill though.

19} You haven't played video games long into the night for quite some time

What? Since last night is ‘quite some time’?

20} You like coffee and drink it every day

Yes, I do, and I actually have no memory of when I started drinking coffee… it seems I always liked the stuff.

21} You are not the President, a professional athlete, or the King of the World

King of the world? President? Pfft! Who needs that headache?? 

22} You don't watch cartoons anymore

I don’t purposely watch any TV unless someone else turns it on and puts a dvd in (no cable). As our TV always belonged to my dad when I was young, we watched what he wanted to watch… or went outside to play. Except in the evenings, then mom was in charge and watched her game shows… so, back outside for me. As for cartoons, there are so many nowadays that are worth watching, much improved compared to the junk we had when I was a kid. I’ve enjoyed Samurai Jack, Avatar the Last Air Bender, and those Penguins of Madagascar… my heroes! ;D  


23} You can find enjoyment from classical music

I did as a kid as well, as I can from most music types… except country. I hated that when I was young too. 

24} You are an atheist

I’ve come full circle. Walked away from the fundamentalist stuff my mom wanted me to believe in, and the other variety of my dad’s that he didn’t want to impose on us, I grew past not wanting to believe in anything… boring and unsatisfying…  to being a very happy spiritual pagan humanist non-religious sort of true believer as an adult. I hated church. I love believing and attending ‘life as church’… I wish I could have started out on this path.  

25} You have ordered salad off a menu for dinner.

Salad is awesome stuff. I probably ordered it for dinner more as a child than I have as an adult simply because I haven’t always lived in places where eating random greens is a healthy choice.

Conclusion: I don’t think younger me would hate older me, or be disappointed. I think she’d be jealous!

Blame the cat?

I would have been blogging and posting more, but the cat ate my computer.


Hmm? Maybe not. She did try to steal my cable though. No excuses. Even though we are home again, we are still on vacation. The kids did a week of day camp and had a great time with that, but mostly we’ve been hanging around the house being lazy. Brian and Honor learned to make some balloon animals while at camp. How cool is this?


Yes, those are Ninja turtles!

Honor has been trying to figure out how many stuffed animals she can sleep with without ending up on the floor.


One or more cats will also end up in the pile with her by night’s end … somehow…


I’ve been doing various crafts, crochet, quilting, etc., including crafts handed to me by the kids. Those ‘Hey mom, please sew/make/repair/etc this’ - type jobs. This is Pixie supervising my sewing of a purse for Honor. I have a tiny little work space (and am grateful I have a dedicated space at that!) and I am often sharing it with one or more cats as I work.


I cut my hair… I got tired of having it all one length, which was convenient and easy to care for, but boring. It’s now in layers and very casual and still easy to deal with and I like it. Honor is also wearing bangs again.


We’ve been doing all sorts of sorting. Spring cleaning and organizing where we’ve emptied closets, toy boxes, cabinets, etc. Basically, I am trying to get a major  overhaul done on the house, little bits at a time so nobody is tortured too much, before school starts up again. Above is a demonstration on how to do filing and paperwork with a cat.


Both kids have been doing a lot of reading. btw.. yes, I do realize that I have more photos of Honor than Brian, but it is Honor who usually hollers “MOM! Ninja is being cute! Come take our picture!” I’d probably get more of Brian too if he hadn’t been spending so much time this summer hanging out in his PJ’s as much as possible. I mean.. it’s a luxury, might as well, right?! But I’m trying not to embarrass my middle schooler :)


Here’s one of him, not in pj’s, having a sword fight with Pumpkin.

We’ve all been doing a lot of lazing about watching dvd’s…


Sometimes undignified, and sometimes in a more cute and cuddly manner.


Sharing grapes is a good thing to do when watching tv together.



We’ve been doing other things, and I’ve cooked some nice dishes that I should, perhaps, have shared recipes for, but it’s summer time and I am holding on to my right to be slightly lazy and laid back. At least for a few more weeks. Hope you all are having a good summer too.