March 2009


2009-03-16housetop

"The Conference Room"

School begins tomorrow. We had a full two weeks of Spring Break. I stupidly looked forward to it as a time to get a few extra things done. I did not schedule any stamping activity during that time and thought at the very least I could clean out my closet or something.

But there was a wedding in the middle. The first week of Spring Break was a little bit of playing and projects with my girls, an endoscopy and making lots and lots of breadsticks. The wedding was that first weekend. The next week my niece and nephew stayed with me while the Bride and Groom (my brother) had their honeymoon in a nearby town. I had projects galore planned. We did not get to half of them. I am amazed at how much more effort it is to supervise four children than it is two children. (And I am amazed that people purposely have that many children!) The kids were definitely good kids, but twice as many is just completely different.

The two biggest problems, or annoyances, or something were:

1)  I was astounded at how much dirtier boys get and  how much more quickly. My girls are pretty “girly” in a lot of ways, but I always think of them as “Tomboy Princesses.” They are not afraid to play outside and jump and climb. (They scare Prince  Charming to death with their climbing and walking on the walls that are used as fences here.) But apparently they are CLEAN Tomby Princesses.  Or else they are just a lot more prissy than I thought. Their 7-year-old cousin who is a boy got himself more dirty than five girls could, I think.

2009-03-16binwater

Apparently it feels good to get one's winter pajamas drenched in the sprinkler.

2009-03-16chickletswimsuit

Chicklet decided instead of pajamas to put on a swimsuit to run through the sprinkler when it was 48 degrees outside.

2)  Chic (age 7) has a beautiful laugh. I love to hear her laugh. But when she is with her 7-year-old-boy cousin, she has a giggle that makes me want to shoot her. I know this giggle. I hear it from a couple of the 7th and 8th grade girls in art class. It is a giggle that happens only when boys are around. I call it “smart-girl-pretending-to-be-stupid giggle.” Chic has adopted it when around her cousin. THIS. MUST. STOP.

The bride and groom and the cousins left our house from their house around 6:30 this morning. I was up  until midnight last night and actually up very late the past two weeks. I went back to bed and stayed for another 2-1/2 hours. Call me lazy, I do not care! But now things will get back to normal. School starts again tomorrow. (Yuk for me.) I will have art class this week. I have two stamping  workshops this week. I will be getting behind in the regular ways instead of the vacation ways. But routine always has a way of feeling good even when the schedule of it drives me into the ground.

But before I start to catch up on all the things I was not doing, I will remind myself of some of the activities of the last week…

The photo at the top and directly below are a playhouse we inherited from the neighbors that are moving. It was the most common meeting place of the week. I must tell you that my niece, who will be 13 in a week, jumped on it each time with one giant hurdle-leap. She is a track star in the making.

2009-03-16fullhouseThe next photo shows the results of the first craft project. They all decorated hats on Monday (and wore them the rest of the week.) Aunt/Mommy gave no direction here–just helped them attach with a hot glue gun, so the designs were very personal.

2009-03-16hatsAnother craft project was weaving. This shows my nephew’s finished project. This was a great project because they could not finish it quickly, so they worked on it all week when they had nothing better to do. We went around the yard and gathered nature materials to weave into the project. They all loved this.

2009-03-21weaving1

One day I had some errands to run, so I took them to the Climbing Tree when I was finished. I thought this would be such a fun thing for all of them to do. But as children do, they completely did something other than I planned. There is an irrigation canal next to the climbing tree. It is dry a lot of the time, but it was not that day. They climbed for a few minutes, then spent the next hour throwing rocks, dirt, sticks and leaves into the canal.

The climbing tree has had a branch removed since I posted its picture last autumn. Sad, but there are lots of other branches to climb.

The climbing tree has had a branch removed since I posted its picture last autumn. Sad, but there are lots of other branches to climb.

2009-03-17canal

The water was less-than-clean, and I was SURE I was going to have to go in after one or more of them, but no one fell (or slid-because the sides were very loose dirt and quite steep) in.  I think this was the day they all got a little sunburn because Mommy/Aunt did not think of slathering sunscreen all over them.

2009-03-17leafonwater

The 4 children were outside continually. Our yard is small tiny. My niece and nephew live on ten acres, so I thought they might feel a little trapped (as I did when I first moved here), but they seemed to adapt. They even figured out to bat a giant ball instead of a softball so it wouldn’t fly too far away.

2009-03-19backyardbaseball

Prince Charming took a day off work so we could go hiking at our favorite spot (which I think I will feature tomorrow for My World Tuesday) and look for a letterbox. We did not find a letterbox, but we had a terrific time on this climbing hike.

2009-03-19tentrocks

So now my crazy life is back to normal, and I did not even get a single closet cleaned out, but I would not have traded the craziness of the last week for anything. (Now if I could only get the other cousins to come for a long visit!)

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When I posted a rainbow last year for SkyWatch Friday, I said that I did not think I would ever post one because I just cannot photograph what I see. But when I did it, it was a good photograph, even if it was not as spectacular as being there.

200903-19swf2009-03-09rainbow

Today’s is not quite such an excellent one, but I loved how the rainbow showed up in blue sky. I was driving home in the rain (rare for our desert this time of year, but we had it twice in one week–and it was COLD!), and I saw it. A full rainbow over the city and mountain. Spectacular. But I wasn’t in a place to get  a good picture. I took a few on the fly, but hoped it would last.

It faded, but these pictures are after I got on top of the mesa and could stop for a good view.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

2009-03-15llcI just realized that if I do not get something posted right away, I will not until SkyWatch tomorrow. I really, really try to post at least once in between the two memes I do.

And although I never wanted this blog to be a diary of my life, many of your comments from the last non-meme post were so kind and full of concern for various things that I thought an update and a few pictures might be fun.

First, here is the breadstick recipe. It is SO easy, but we really love them.  (I think I am making more this afternoon because today did not get on our menu planner so we are having spaghetti with frozen homemade marinara sauce–a standby in emergencies. The breadsticks are quick and simple.) They are of course best fresh from the oven, but after freezing, they are not bad fresh from the oven, either.

Chewy Breadsticks (from Sunset Breads, 1991)

1 pkg. active dry yeast

1-1/2 c. warm water (I always use 115 degrees F for this in my freezing cold house)

1 Tbls. honey

4-1/2 – 5-1/2 c. flour

melted butter

onion salt, garlic salt or seasoned salt.

In large, warmed bowl of electric mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Beat in  honey with mixer, then gradually add 3 c. of flour. (I use 1 c. of whole wheat, the rest white), beating well until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl.

Gradually beat in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. (At my humidity level (almost 0) and altitude (5000ish feet), I use 1-1/2 more cups of flour.) Knead until smooth and satiny (10 minutes by hand, 3-4 minutes in mixer), adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Make into 32 ten-inch breadsticks by cutting dough into quarters and each quarter into eighths, then rolling into breadsticks between your hands. Place on greased baking sheets and let rest in warm place for 15 minutes or until slightly puffy.

Brush each breadstick with melted butter, then sprinkle with seasoned salt. (I have used garlic salt, seasoned salt and Fleur de Sel sea salt. I love all of these.) Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Allow to slightly cool before serving, or cool completely and freeze in airtight containers. To reheat, place thawed breadsticks on baking sheets for 5 minutes in a 300 degree F oven.

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Next, thank you so much to everyone concerned about my health. My current ailment is bronchitis and a sinus infection (which is improving the past couple of days). This is common for me in the winter; I would even say chronic. The other issue was an endoscopy which was precautionary after my esophagitis problems. Because it was determined that I have likely had reflux all/most of my life, the doctors were a bit concerned about the state of my esophagus. (It seems that reflux causes cancer–not a matter of if, but when. But damage is reversible (?), so they just need to check it out.) Anyway, all is well. My esophagus and stomach are pink and as pretty as those things can be!

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And last, here are some wedding photos. The bride and groom have not seen any photos yet (except what were taken on the groom’s REALLY. NICE. camera.), and they do not even know about this blog, so I am just posting some shots that do not identify them.

The one at the top, however, is me, is all my shining glory near the very end of the day’s festivities! (I wish I had Photoshop to unshine me a bit.)  It was a picture with the bride’s sister who I instantly loved as much as the bride, but I did not want to post her picture on here, either.  (The only full-length photos of me in the dress were not on my camera. I hope to get a copy in a couple of weeks. I will have to crop out other people, but if they are at all decent, I will post one to satisfy your burning curiosity. But rest assured I was slightly more frumpy than the model in the older post about the dress.)

The first is the bride and groom walking in the park looking for a place with decent lighting for shooting.  None of us had ever been to the park before, but it was highly recommended to the couple by someone. It was not great for photos, but there were a few good ones.

2009-03-15couplewalking

The next is the bride’s tiara and hair. She and it were gorgeous. I had to get a picture with the sun on her head.

2009-03-15tiara

The last are the extremely-cute-but-not-meant-for-women-my-age shoes I got for the occasion. Really, who am I to complain about the dress when I got shoes that nearly cut off my toes?!

2009-03-15shoes

As for Size 0, I’m not sure what she did about her dress, but it didn’t seem like she was poured in it. She caught the bouquet. Her boyfriend caught the garter (he was the only one who tried), so it looks like she’ll be off looking for a size 0-6 wedding dress soon!

This is a short My World post because I have the aftermath of a wedding to deal with (and two extra kids in my house), but my daughters were elated to find hundreds of ladybugs on evergreens last week. I think this may be an official sign of Spring!

200903-162009-03-09ladybug

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

2009-03-10breadsticksAt this very moment I am making breadsticks. I am working on the 9th batch this week. Counting this batch, I have three more to go. I must hurry because I only have a couple of hours to do a lot of things.

I am making breadsticks for the wedding in which I wear the wonderful dress. I had to get the dress altered. It would never zip up, and my winter of being sick three times (third time currently) has not allowed for lots of any exercise. The person who altered it (for an unbelievably good price) made loops and lacing in the back. It is actually very pretty. But although I love the color of the dress (which is not truly represented in this picture), as predicted my March skin does not look too terrific in it. I should have gone to get a spray tan, but no time or energy. There are chocolate shawls (which I have yet to model), so I am hoping that will be advantageous.

2009-03-12dresslacingHere is the funny part about the dress. The person who picked out the dresses and purchased them (in another state–not the bride) is a size “0.” Yes, it’s true. I will admit, here online (I cannot believe I am doing this) to being a size 10. (I have no idea what this corresponds to in non-American sizes.)  The dresses were small for everyone. The size 0 purchaser got herself a size 6 because that is what fit her. She got everyone else a dress at least two sizes bigger than their actual size. Everyone but me, that is. Mine was a size 12. It should have been at least a 14, or according to her own purchase, a 16. But mine was a 12 and did not fit. Thus the alterations.

But as I was earlier this week  picking up MY perfect dress, I learned from the Bride (who always went with me to the fittings because the seamstress was a lady who does not speak English, and I do not speak Spanish) that Size 0’s dress does not fit anymore. She gained weight, and it does not fit.  At this point, no one is sure what she is going to do about it. Me? Forgive my snicker!

For those of you that were concerned about my parenting skills a couple of posts ago, let me say this:  My children are well-behaved and happy. I recently went to a birthday party in which there were 7 children all between the ages of my 2 daughters. (Nearly 5 and 7.)  There were three well-behaved children of the seven. Mine were two of them. There were three happy children of the seven. Mine were two of them. (The other well-behaved and other happy child were not the same child.) This is not an isolated incident. I do not want to get into giant discussions about parenting. That post was written for humor. And there is a lot more I could say on this topic, the birthday party, and parenting in general, but I am not the type to judge other people’s styles of parenting. (And I am not saying my children and well-behaved and happy every single minute of every single day. They are not. But the general trend is happy and well-behaved.)

2009-03-08bubbleplayToday’s post is not a SkyWatch post because I will not be able to do my regular SkyWatch visiting. I am having a medical procedure this afternoon relating to this problem. It involves sedation which is known to make me feel rotten for a good week.  (And of course I would rather feel rotten for a week than feel REALLY rotten for an hour!) Our wireless network does not work with my computer. (Prince Charming needs to get on that.) I am assuming I will be in bed this afternoon and evening, so I will not be visiting you, either.  The wedding is this Sunday, and festivities for us begin tomorrow evening when the groom arrives as our guest. I am hoping the doctor will give me something to take if I feel really horrible.  Sunday not only am I in the wedding, but I am one of the photographers. I will not be taking pictures at the church, but a few hours before the wedding at a park. I really, really, REALLY hope I feel good!  But thank goodness once the breadsticks are in the freezer, I am off of food duty!

Not for SkyWatch, but I couldn't help myself.

Not for SkyWatch, but I couldn't help myself.

So that is my current life in a nutshell. Exciting, I know. But I hope to be around a bit more next week. Although I will be babysitting my niece and nephew (ages 7 and 12) while the bride and groom are on their honeymoon. Maybe I will just stay in bed next week, too!

Back to Orlando today.

2009-01-08turretmoon

The place I stayed for my January visit to Orlando was the Doubletree Castle Hotel. I stayed here because it was supposedly close to the Convention Center where my Conference was. (“Close” is apparently a relative term. It was close enough for running shoes. Not close enough for street shoes. Thankfully they have a semi-reliable trolley system there.) The other reason for staying here is that as usual, Prince Charming was in charge of setting this up, and this is the best deal he could find. (It WAS a good deal!)

When I arrived, I thought it was a bit cheesy from the outside.  Coral paint and turrets.  But it turned out to be a nice place with the second-most-comfortable-hotel-bed-which-I-have-experienced. (I have never stayed in a Westin with a “heavenly bed.”)  Probably the best part was the warm chocolate chip cookie given to me upon checking in (which is apparently a Doubletree signature). Most pictures can be enlarged when clicked.

the pool

the pool

close-up of pool fountain

close-up of pool fountain

The grounds were pretty. (But what wasn’t? It was January in  FLORIDA!) The room service was inconvenient, but had WONDERFUL food. (Next to the bed, this is the most important thing to me.)

2009-01-08gazebo1

This place was created for a book and me

It was definitely very “castle-like” inside. My Princesses would have loved it. (But I loved being there by myself!)

2009-01-09stainedglass2009-01-08chandelier

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

2009-03-08icewater1 One morning last week I was lying in bed, rather groggy, just before 5 a.m. Prince Charming gets up between 4:30 and 4:50 every morning, so he was downstairs. Then I heard this strange sound, sort of a jingling. I could tell it was coming up the stairs. Then I heard Prince Charming breathing. I cracked open an eye to see what was making the jingling noise. Just then he said, “You asked for ice in your water, right?”

WHAT?”

Reader, you must understand that I drink a lot of water. I drink it all day long. I drink it before I go to bed. (Thank goodness I have a strong bladder.) But I never, EVER drink water in the morning before something else goes in my mouth. I cannot tolerate the taste of water on morning, yukky-mouth! I must eat or brush my teeth before drinking water, neither of which is going to happen by 5 a.m. on most mornings. This is a known fact in the household. The other thing to know is that I do not like ice water in my giant 34-oz. mug because it STAYS icy forever. I like cool water, but have sensitive teeth. Cold water is not a good thing.

My voice squeaked (because I barely had a voice) out, “Uhhh, no, but thank you!” (Who am I to chastise my husband at 5 a.m. for bringing me ice water?)

Apparently Prince Charming had dreamed that I had asked for ice water. This is strange because he never remembers his dreams. Now that I am thinking about it, maybe he remembers lots of them, but he mixes them up with reality!

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This is what it looks like around my computer these days.  (And a mug of water–icy or not.)

2009-03-03sickBy the way, I just found these cough drops. They are my favorite. EVER. They are not too strong, but they work, and they have a “soothing honey center.” I live for that center!

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Last Wednesday morning found the three females of the house getting ready to go to school. It was in a more relaxed manner than normal for a Wednesday because the oldest female was sick enough that she decided she would not be teaching art that day. (This has nothing to do with this story, but I must tell you that I am NOT the type to cop out on something like that. But Wednesdays are non-stop for me from 5 a.m. – 9 p.m. with minimum 3 different “jobs” or activities, and art is the most draining of all. I knew I would not last in a functioning manner until the end of the day, so something had to go. I have more flexibility with art that the other things.)

I was upstairs herding the girls when I realized an altercation was in process regarding an Ariel music box belonging to Chic (purchased IN Disneyland on Chic’s 5-year-birthday-trip) which Chicklet had apparently broken. This is not the first incident in which Chicklet assumed ownership of anything that suited her and somehow altered it. Thankfully, it was something that was easy to fix, but this did not excuse  Chicklet’s behavior, so it was time for punishment for her crime.

Me: “Chicklet, you know we do not play with anyone’s toys unless they are here, we ask and they allow it.”

Chicklet (meekly): “I know.”

Me: “Do you want to throw away some of your toys or get a ‘spank?'”

Chicklet: “Throw away one of my toys.”

Me:  “Go get something. But I will decide if it is eligible.”

Chicklet ran off and brought back a Polly she had gotten from McDonald’s. NOT eligible! I told her that she needed to find something else. But she could still choose the “spank.” She preferred to throw away toys, so she ran down the hall again.

Chic (with worry and concern all over her face): “A spank would be better!”

Me: “I know, but she does not think so.”

So Chic ran down the hall and commenced to tell Chicklet all the merits of getting a quick spank vs. throwing out toys FOREVER! Chicklet was not moved. The discussion lasted quite some time. She returned with another Polly to add to the pile.  She did not even cry. In fact, she skipped away.

Maybe I need to think of some other punishment.

2009-03-04chicklet

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